4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chairat 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator VARDON presented three peti tions from ten, twelve, and eighteen taxpayers of South Australia, praying the Senate to reject the Land Tax Assessment Bill.
Senator MILLEN.-I wish’ to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, without notice, a question in relation to the census. A week or two ago I asked him. whether the Government had any objection to laying on the table of the Senate copies of the questions to be submitted at the census. I understood him to say that the suggestion which I made would be considered when the paper of questions was finally approved by theGovernment. I should like to know whether the Minister can inform me whether he will lay the paper upon the table as soon as it is completed?
Senator FINDLEY. - Yes; the promise that I made will be kept. I did give an assurance to the honorable senator that the Senate would have ari opportunity of perusing the census paper.
Senator MILLEN. - Can the Minister say when that opportunity will be afforded ?
Senator FINDLEY. - I cannot say offhand.
Senator MILLEN. - I presume that the paper will be produced before the census documents are circulated for the purpose of collecting statistics ?
Senator FINDLEY. - I presume so, because there would be no advantage in laying the paper upon the table after it had been circulated throughout the country.
Senator ST. LEDGER asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice-
Will the Ministerfor Home Affairs, in the event qf his inserting a column in the census returns under the bending “Illegitimate Parents,” also insert an accompanying definition which will accurately and comprehensively define the term “Illegitimate Patents”?
Will he also ascertain whether or not by legislation in one or more of the States the children’ born before marriage become legitimated on the subsequent marriage of the parents;- and also, if such legislation has been passed by all the States?
If no such uniform legislation exists inall the States will the legitimation of the children in the States which have. ‘passed such legislation enure to the legitimation . of the parents for the purpose of the census returns, but not similarly in those States which have not passed such legislation i or how, in the above event, will it enure for the purpose of the Census returns?
Senator FINDLEY. - The answer to the honorable senator’s question is that the matter of legitimacy or illegitimacy does not arise, directly or indirectly, in relation to the taking of the census.
Senator ST. LEDGER. - Arising out of the Minister’s answer, I should like to ask kim what was meant by the declaration of the Minister of Home Affairs, in another place, of his intention to have a question included in the census paper relating to “ illegitimate parents “ ? ‘Was any declaration made by. the Minister of Home Affairs in the House of Representatives or anywhere else, regarding his intention to obtain a record in relation to that subject?
Senator FINDLEY. - It is impossible for me to give an answer that would be absolutely satisfactory to the honorable senator. He asks me whether the Minister whom I represent in the Senate made in another place or elsewhere a statement referred to in a paragraph which has appeared in the newspapers. I suggest that the honorable senator might give the ordinary notice of the question.
Senator STEWART. - I should like to know whether Parliament will have an opportunity of seeing a copy of the questions which are to be included in the census paper ?
Senator FINDLEY. - I have already given an assurance to Senator Millen that a copy of the questions will be laid upon the table of the Senate.
– -I wish to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether it is true, as reported in the newspapers to-day, that he and the Minister for Home Affairs were in Adelaide last week, and requested from the Government of that State an area of 40 acres of the park lands of Adelaide for military purposes; and, if so, for what reason is the Minister asking for such a large portion of the park lands from the citizens of Adelaide?
– The question to which the honorable senator has referred was the subject of a conference between the Minister for Home Affairs and myself, representing the Commonwealth, and the Premier of South Australia and other Ministers, representing the State Government. The proposal was to exchange the whole of the military properties now in possession of the Commonwealth Government - and which also include a portion of what used to be part lands - for another suitable site near the Observatory, opening upon the park lands. A part of the proposal agreed to by the parties was that no portion of the lands so acquired should be fenced off from the general public, except such portions as buildings were erected upon. In other words, the general public would have free right of access to the whole of the land acquired, other than the portion upon which buildings were erected, subject to the right of the Defence authorities to have control of the land while any military parade was being held. That was the proposition which was submitted and tentatively agreed to.
– I should like to ask the Minister of Defence what is the area of land which the Commonwealth proposes to give in exchange?
– The area proposed to be exchanged, including the buildings thereon, is, approximately, 4 acres.
– With reference to my honorable friend’s use of the phrase “ tentatively agreed to,” may I ask him whether it is a fact that an agreement, in writing, has been entered into between himself and the Minister for Home Affairs, representing the Commonwealth Government, and the Government of South Australia ; and, if so, whether the agreement is to be subject to the approval of this Parliament, on the one hand, and df the Parliament of South Australia, on the other?
– As far as I know, no written agreement has been entered into.
I certainly have not seen any agreement.
asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
Senator PEARCE laid, upon the table the following paper -
Defence Acts 1903-1904. - Regulations for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth. - Cancellation of Regulation 504, and substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 86.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 20th September, vide page 3382):
Clause 5 -
The agreement is by this Act ratified and ap- proved.
Upon which Senator Givens had moved by way of amendment -
That after the word “agreement” the following words be inserted : - “ with the exception of paragraphsb, c, d, e, f, g, and h of clause 1 thereof.”
– This clause is the essence of the Bill, and in connexion with it there is a question which I have to ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council, and which I hope he will answer with a due sense of its importance. The Attorney-General, who, no doubt, speaks on behalf of the Government, has advised that under this agreement it is possible for the railway to be taken out of the Northern Territory, and for a portion of it to be constructed in Queensland. Mr. Dashwood, the Crown Solicitor of South Australia, and Mr. Mitchell, one of the most eminent counsel in Australia, have expressed a contrary opinion. On the question of law the AttorneyGeneral may be right or may be wrong, but the intention of the Government in dealing with the matter is a question of fact, and I wish to know whether they intend so to construe the agreement that the line may be taken outside the Northern Territory before it connects with the line to be constructed in South Australia proper? I wish to know from the VicePresident of the Executive Council whether the Government put this agreement before us with the understanding that if the measure is passed we shall be at liberty to construct a portion of the railway outside the Northern Territory ? The honorable senator must realize the importance of the question, as, while one set of conditions would arise if the construction of the line must be confined within the Northern Territory, an entirely different set of conditions would arise if the agreement may be construed as meaning that the line may be diverted into the Queensland territory.
– Why should the honorable senator always refer to Queensland? That is not the only State outside the Northern Territory.
– Into what other States does the honorable senator suggest that the line might be diverted ?
– Western Australia.
– According to the Attorney-General’s opinion it would be possible to take the line to Perth, in Western Australia.
– I will admit the contention.
– That is not my contention. I merely say that the AttorneyGeneral’s opinion would justify that.
– The more the matter is explained, the more does the railway appear to be in the clouds. We are being asked under this Bill to commit the Commonwealth to an expenditure of £11,000,000, and possibly more, and the Attorney-General advises that, under the agreement, the railway may be diverted into Western Australia on one side, or into Queensland on the other. Eminent counsel have said that that is not possible, and the question arises, What does the agreement mean? Surely we should have definite information on the subject from the Government. Dealing with the matter as one of law. the High Court is the only tribunal that could give a binding decision upon the question, but before the High Court is appealed to we should, apart from the question of law, have an expression ‘ of opinion as to the intention of the Government in the interpretation of the agreement. When the Bill was first presented, there seemed to be a suggestion that this. Parliament, in ratifying the agreement with South Australia, would be at liberty, if itwere found necessary for the development of the Northern Territory, to take a portion of the proposed line outside that Territory. The suggestion was that the possible deviation would be towards the Queensland border.
– This explains the strong opposition of Queensland senators to the direct route.
– It is useless for Ministers by any squirming to avoid an answer to the question I put. This matter must have been considered in Cabinet, and, while the Attorney-General may be right or wrong in law, there should be no doubt as to the intention of the Government in construing the agreement. I wish to know whether it is their intention, in submitting the agreement to Parliament, to take some portion of the proposed line outside the Northern Territory, if that should appear to be wise in the interests of the Commonwealth ?
– It can hardly be expected that I should answer every question put without notice, but I do Senator St. Ledger the honour of replying to his question, without the formalityof notice. The matter to which he refers has been very seriously considered by the Government, and the opinions that have been expressed, by mem.bers of the legal profession have been taken at their value. But lawyers, like doctors, differ, and where they express diverse opinions, those opinions cannot receive the consideration which they otherwise would.. So far as our Attorney-General is concerned, I may inform the honorable senator that he is above all law. As an authority he is unquestioned. If all the lawyers in Australia were against his opinion, he would, of course, be right. So far as the Government are concerned, every consideration will be given to every aspect of the question, and to all legal opinions, in the interests of the Commonwealth. If in future it were found, upon investigation, and upon the evidence of officers who ought to know, and whose business it was to advise, that by going for a mile or two into the territory of Queensland, or into me territory of Western Australia, with, of course, the permission of the authorities of those States, advantage would be gained, the Government would consider the matter from that point 0$ view. If, on the other hand,, it were demonstrated clearly that a straight line, or a line deviating slightly from that course, would be best in the interests of the Commonwealth, although it would be entirely within the Northern Territory, that also would receive serious consideration. That is all the answer I can give the honorable senator. Seeing that there is an elasticity in the proposal before the Committee, which should suit honorable senators from Queensland and Western Australia, without raising- their hopes unnecessarily, they should be thoroughly satisfied if the people of South- Australia are satisfied with this interpretation.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [2.57]. - I happen to be one of the humble people of South Australia, but I must tell the Vice-President of the Executive Council that I am not satisfied. I rather take exception to the strong appeal which the honorable senator has made to the people of Western Australia and Queensland to be satisfied when this is not a matter which concerns either of those States, except itv regard to* a provision tacked’ on to the agreement-, which’ I think is out’ of place here, but the presence- of which we cannot help. I am’ glad that th’e remarks of Senator St. Ledger have evoked what we have just heard from the Vice-‘ President of the Executive Council. It shows the absolute necessity, it seems to me, of making clear what my honorable friend - with all respect for his ability - tried to confuse,, and, if he will forgive me for saying so, avoided expressing any definite or guiding- opinion about’. The honorable senator said that lawyers differ as to the construction of documents. It is proverbial that, like doctors, they are in the habit of differing. So long as men are men, and minds vary, we shall find differences of opinion in the legal and medical professions, as in every other walk in life. But the honorable senator has said something which does concern me, and which elucidated the position a good deal. The Attorney-General is the only person, so far as I am aware, who has expressed an opinion that it would be possible to construe this bargain between South Australia and the Commonwealth as meaning that the proposed’ railway might be taken, not a mile or two. out of a direct route, but,, I was going to. say, as far as we jolly well please into the eastern or western States, because there is no limit of a mile or 50 miles to the deviation which the Attorney-General considers possible under the agreement. My honorable friend has called our attention to the fact that the Attorney-General, who has expressed that opinion,, is. above all law.’ I dare say that he is-, because some of the worst opinions in the world are given by those who are above all law. They are like the Gentiles. But it is not with a view to- discounting the elevated position which is occupied by the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, or of lowering him one inch from the very high pedestal upon which the Vice-President of the- Executive Council has placed him, that I make these remarks. I merely wish to emphasize what my honorable friend has indicated’, namely, that the Government are guided by the opinion of the Attorney-General, and that they have brought forward this Bill on the understanding - whatever its language may be - that at some future time the railway, which, under the agreement, the people of South Australia believe must be constructed between the eastern and western bound-, aries of the Northern Territory, may travel outside those boundaries, into- States lying to the east or west thereof .
– Did the honorable senator gather that impression from the remarks of the Vice-President of the Executive Council?
– I am putting into plain language what I think my honorable friend intended to convey. Honorable senators ought to be clear as to what they are asked to vote for. If the Bill and the agreement mean that the proposed railway is to run southward within the borders of the Northern Territory, we can either support or oppose the measure upon that footing. By making the position clear we shall not prevent any honorable senator from voting either one way or the other. In point of fact, I do not believe that the supporters of the Bill are supporting it because they imagine that it will empower the Commonwealth to carry the railway outside of the Northern Territory into other States. They are supporting it in the belief that the line must be constructed within the Territory itself.
– It will follow the best route which can be devised.
– Under the agreement that route must be the best route between the eastern and western borders of the Northern Territory.
– I hope so.
– Is that the basis upon which the Government have introduced the Bill ? If they have brought it forward upon the strength of the opinion expressed by the Attorney-General, and if they are asking honorable senators to vote for it on the asumption that the projected line may diverge from the Northern Territory into other States, we are being asked to vote for it upon an assumption which is not well founded. In such circumstances, the Senate will be merely deceiving itself. We must make the position plain. I do not care in what way that is done. If the Government choose to do so, let them declare in the Bill that the railway shall travel outside the Northern Territory. We shall then be able either to vote for or oppose the measure upon that understanding. If, on the contrary, the railway is to be confined within the Northern Territory, we ought either to support or oppose it upon that footing. I am sure that the VicePresident of the Executive Council will recognise the impropriety of the position which the Government are taking up. If my honorable friend will tell us that they are inviting the Senate to support this Bill on the understanding that the railway may pass from the Northern Territory into Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, so long as it joins the line at Port Augusta, the fact ought to be made clear.
– The Government have no such ridiculous idea in their minds.
– I am grateful to my honorable friend for that interjection. Then the only alternative open to- the Government is to make it clear that we are asked to vote for this measure on the understanding that the projected line will be constructed within the borders of the Northern Territory.
– But the honorable senator mentioned New South Wales a’ri’d Victoria.;
– Then, does my honorable friend restrict his answer to Queensland? If so, he is cutting it very fine. Does he say that the Government are asking the Senate to vote for the Bill on the understanding that the proposed line may run south through Queensland or New South Wales?
-It could not diverge into New South Wales without having to come back again.
– Then, does the Vice-President of the Executive Council ask us to vote for the Bill on the assumption that the line will run south through Queensland?
– I am adopting the most liberal interpretation which can be placed upon it.
– I think that my honorable friend ought to say what are the intentions of the Government in this matter. Do they ask us to vote for the Bill on the understanding that the projected line will deviate from the Northern Territory and run southward through Queensland ?
– Not necessarily.
– Are we invited to support it on the understanding that the line may do so?
– It may. But I am not a witness who is under examination.
– If the Government take up the attitude which has been assumed by every previous Administration that, rightly or wrongly, it has been agreed with South Australia that the railway shall be constructed southwards through the Northern Territory alone, we shall know exactly where we stand. But if they assume a different attitude - in the absence of a specific declaration - they may either next session, or the session after, bring down a Bill to authorize the construction of a railway which may run - I do not know how many miles - into Queensland upon its course southward*
– If such a line were constructed, would it develop the Northern Territory ?
– But the Vice- Presided of the Executive Council, speaking on behalf of the Government, has said, in effect, that that is what they have up their sleeve. If the Government take up that position, I would ask honorable senators not to stultify themselves by voting for the Bill. Only the other day I pointed out that, by adopting such an attitude, we should be practically enacting a lawsuit. But we should be doing worse than that.
– Are lawsuits naturally bad?
– I do not say that. Lawsuits are excellent things in their way. But we do not wish to sit here to enact a lawsuit. Even a lawsuit, however, would be nothing by way of comparison with the other troubles which would inevitably arise. If this question had to be decided by the High Court, I have not the slightest doubt that that tribunal would hold the opinion of the AttorneyGeneral to be wrong. I say so, not because of any view which I may entertain, but because of the opinion which has been expressed by an eminent counsel - I refer to Mr. Mitchell, K.C. I am quite satisfied that his opinion would be upheld, and that, under this agreement, the High Court would rule that South Australia is entitled to have the projected railway run from north to south between the eastern and western boundaries of the Northern Territory.
– Then the honorable senator ought to vote for the Bill.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council is playing fast and loose. He has made a statement upon the strength of which the Government, next session, might ask Parliament to pass a Bill authorizing the construction of a railway which was to pass out of the Northern Territory and to continue southwards through Queensland. That being the case, the Government are not doing themselves justice in this matter. I do not for a moment suggest that they should disregard the opinion of the AttorneyGeneral, but they ought to make the position clear, either one way or the other. If they think that the Attorney-General is right, let the Vice-President of the Executive Council move an amendment embodying his view that the railway may be diverted into Queensland, either in this or a succeeding clause. I shall endeavour to make the position clear from my point of view by moving to insert, after the word “ constructed,” the words “ in the Northern Territory.” The amendment which I have outlined will not prevent any honorable senator from voting either for or against the Bill. But 1 venture to say that until the Vice-President of the Executive Council made his statement this afternoon there was not an honorable senator who did not believe that he was being asked to vote for the measure on the understanding that the proposed line would run through the Northern Territory alone. Again I invite the honorable gentleman’s attention to the altered position. Last session the introduction of this Bill was accompanied by a clear and honest declaration on the part of the Government that the route to be followed by the proposed railway would be within the eastern and western borders of the Northern Territory. In this connexion I will refer the Vice-President of the Executive Council to the words which were used by Sir Robert Best.
– He merely gave utterance to another legal opinion.
– Oh, no. I do not put forward his remarks from the stand-point of an expression of legal opinion, but as indicative of the basis upon which the Government introduced the Bill. Senator Best said -
I wish to point out in this connexion that the route of the railway is not determined according to the terms of the agreement further than that it must be within the east and west limits of the Territory.
We can vote against it, but, if so, what we vote against is the running of a line through the Territory. There is a clear cleavage between the opponents and supporters of this proposal. That was the basis upon which the measure was introduced last year, and considered up to the time that Senator Givens’ ‘ amendment was carried by a small majority.
– Might not the honorable senator add, in fairness, that it was also stated that a member of the State Government had told the State Parliament that they were agreeable to a deviation which they indicated on a map produced in the chamber of the House of Assembly ?
– I am exceedingly obliged to my honorable friend for his interposition, but what he suggests was not stated here.
– It was stated in the House of Representatives.
– In the Senate there was not one word said such as my honorable friend reminds me of. No one could have made it plainer than he did the other day in his speech, that some remarks were made in the South Australian House of Assembly.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Was not that mentioned in the House of Representatives ?
– What is the good of my honorable friend saying that? He is only echoing like a parrot what Senator Millen has said.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - It is a very important echo.
– It is not. Senator Millen made the statement - I attach great weight to what he says, and also to what Senator Gould says - but I had already observed that the statement was not made here, and I understood Senator Millen, perhaps wrongly, to correct me, and to suggest that it was only fair that I should add that Senator Best had said something else.
– Not Senator Best, but a South Australian Minister.
– I am not talking about a State Minister. It is enough for me to reach the much higher level of a Commonwealth Minister. My point is simply the basis on which the Bill was commended to the Senate. But I repudiate the remarks which were made in the South Australian House of Assembly, because they were unauthorized and are not contained in the agreement. If it had been intended that any such deviation should take place, the proper thing to do was to ask for an amendment of the agreement and to insert the necessary words. It was known perfectly well that the people of the State would not have consented to anything of that kind- It was because the substance of the agreement was in the form of a memorandum between the Commonwealth Prime Minister and the late lamented Mr. Price that an agitation took place in South Australia in opposition to the arrangement embodied therein, because we were afraid that when it came to be put in the form of an agreement this important provision might have been whittled away or left out.
– What remarks does the honorable senator repudiate?
– I repudiate the remarks which were quoted by Senator Millen, to the effect that South Australia would be agreeable to an alternative route carrying the railway into Queensland or New South Wales.
– As shown on this map.
– What trash it is to refer to the map here ! That is not drawn to scale. How far does my honorable friend think that the red dotted lines go into Queensland ?
– They certainly go across the boundary.
– It is merely a free-hand drawing, and whatever it may be as to an alternative route, it is not what was agreed upon between the two high contracting parties, and I utterly repudiate any remarks of that kind made when we are dealing with a plain agreement. Let us either support it or oppose it on honest, straight, intelligible grounds, but do not let us support it on such a suggestion as Senator McGregor has made - that it will permit the railway to be taken outside the Territory into Queensland. That is the situation which Senator St. Ledger’s inquiry has brought about. Let honorable senators oppose the agreement, and, to use a common phrase, chuck it out if they like, but let them chuck it out as having a definite meaning. If there is a doubt about the meaning, let it be set at rest, but do not let the question be reopened next year, like the Capital Site question, and give rise to a prolonged, necessarily earnest, and, perhaps, vehement debate.
– Not because the Act was not clear.
– The question was reopened more than once. If this Bill is passed on the footing presented by the Minister a little while ago, the question will be liable to be reopened. If it does not make the view of the AttorneyGeneral clear, it will be said that, that was the basis on which it was introduced and passed, and the Government will seek to act upon it, when it will be too late for the Senate or the State of South Australia to object. That is what I fear. If we assent to the Bill on the footing which Senator McGregor presented to us, it will be open to the Government next year, when they bring in a measure to authorize the construction of the railway, to deviate it into and through Queensland, and to . tell us that we cannot complain, because they warned us of the deviation, an.d that they only accepted the . rneasure in a particular form on that footing. If we pass the Bill on that footing, it will be impliedly an alteration of the agreement-
– The honorable senator holds that it does not clearly express what is contained in the agreement?
– Yes. The agreement is, so to speak, in two parts. It imposes two obligations, one being on the Commonwealth, and the other on the State. In the first part it was not necessary for the draftsman to use the words “to be constructed in the Northern Territory,” because the language showed that the line must pass through the Territory. But when he came to the second part, which places upon the State the obligation to allow the Commonwealth to build the railway through South Australia proper, to join with the Northern Territory line, he used the words “to be built in the Northern Territory,” making the thing as clear as the noonday sun. It is quite plain that one part of the agreement must be read with the other. But the second part of the agreement is not repeated in. the Bill. We have only to deal with the first part of the agreement, and, unfortunately, it did not occur to the draftsman that he had left out two or three words, which, although not absolutely essential, would have been useful in interpreting where the railway must run. The object of the amendment I propose to move will be simply to put in the words which the draftsman should have put in.
– That will not’necessitate a reference to the State.
– No, because it will not alter the agreement, but will make the Bill clear. To show that I do not desire to prejudice the Government, or to embarrass any one, let them or the opponents of the Bill propose the insertion of words deviating the line into Queensland. The only difference is that an amendment of that character would, in my opinion, amount to an alteration of the agreement.
– Yes, and it would compel the Government to deviate the line, whether it was necessary or not.
– I am with my honorable friend; but I would make clear what honorable members wished, and the footing on which they would support the Bill.
– We do not want the railwav to be deviated.
SenatorSir JOSIAH SYMON.- No, but my honorable friend invites the Committee to believe that if we pass the Bill the line may be deviated into Queensland, Does he not mean that?
-It would not prevent it.
– It will prevent it if the agreement means what Mr. Mitchell says it does.
– I should be very sorry to confine the Commonwealth to such an extent that if it were found better to go 5 inches outside the boundary of the Territory we would not do so.
– My honorable friend must see that 5 inches may mean 500 miles.
– There is no fear of that.
– My honorable friend cannot tell. If we give an inch the Government may take an ell.
– A Government does not do that.
– A Government is in the hands of its Parliament. Is it not better for honorable senators to vote for the Bill on a clear footing, either one way or the other, than on an uncertain, footing ?
– I want to give to the Commonwealth all possible power.
– Then, my honorable friend does not agree with his own Bill, because, in the opinion of the authorities, it imposes -a restriction, within very wide limits - 560 miles from east to west-and the route is not laid down anywhere therein. If that is my honorable friend’s view, he is not acting quite fairly bythe Senate. If there is power to deviate to the extent of a mile, that is not what South Australia desires. But my honorable friend seems to think that wecan have on this question what the French people call an arriere pensee, and that,, notwithstanding what the South Australian people ‘ mean by the agreement or what the Senate believes it to mean, we can, if we choose, make the railway run into Queensland. Now, that will not satisfy South Australia, and I do not believe that it will satisfy the Senate. Onwhatever side honorable senators vote,, they want to have something clear and definite..
– Would it not satisfy South Australia if the railway deviated a few miles into Queensland?
-It would not satisfy South Australia if permission were given, under this Bill, to run the railway through Queensland.
– Mr. O’Loughlin notwithstanding.
– I do not care about Mr. O’Loughlin. Of course, I am opposed to Senator Givens’ amendment, simply because I cannot understand any one who voted for the second reading supporting such a proposition, which amounts to emasculating the Bill and absolutely destroying the agreement.
– I should not have spoken had it not been for the attitude taken up last night by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. Instead of replying to arguments against the Bill, he treated us to the little bit of levity. He dished up old chestnuts about the flea in the ear and the fly in the jam-pot. I do not think that that method of controversy suited him in the least. He went on to issue threats. [ desire to tell him that no threat which he can utter will deter me from saying that which I think it is my duty to say. I am not going to be bullied by any Minister. The honorable senator told us that we who opposed this Bill were simply ordinary members, whilst I suppose he regarded himself as being a superior kind of senator. I take leave to tell him that he is the most extraordinary Leader of a Government that I have ever heard of in any House of Legislature.
– The honorable senator must discuss the amendment.
– I claim the right to reply to Senator McGregor’s jeers and sneers.
– The honorable senator can do that on the third reading.
– I will say what I have to say while I have the opportunity.
– I must ask the honorable senator to confine himself to the question. We are in Committee, and have nothing to do with what took place In the Senate.
– I am quite aware that that is one of the fictions of Parliament. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council had explained before that the
Bill would permit the Commonwealth to go outside the Northern Territory in constructing a railway for developmental purposes, I should not oppose the measure. I do not care whether the railway is taken into Queensland or into Western Australia, as long as the Commonwealth Parliament is left free, to decide. No one fought more strongly against the Financial Agreement than Senator Symon did. He stumped South Australia in opposition to it. His cry then was that we were leg-roping the Commonwealth. Now he wants us to leg-rope the Commonwealth by providing that a railway that is to be built some day must not deviate one inch beyond the boundary of the Northern Territory. If it be discovered when the survey is completed that it would not be advisable to keep the railway strictly within the Territory, but might be advantageous to take it within a portion of Queensland, or even of Western Australia, Parliament would be leg-roped. What consistency is there in an honorable senator who can maintain two such contradictory attitudes? Furthermore, the Financial Agreement was one which could be altered by the people, but this is an agreement that will be unalterable. No matter what information we receive hereafter, even if we find that money will be absolutely wasted by building the railway strictly within the Territory, we shall be compelled to do so. If, however, the Bill means what the VicePresident of the Executive Council says it means, that the Commonwealth can deviate to a certain extent if it be in the public interests to do so, I shall cease to oppose the m’easure. I have no wish to compel the Commonwealth to take the railway into Queensland if that be not the right thing to do. I am under no obligation to urge that the railway should be taken into Queensland. I have never been asked to do so. I have no commission from any person in Queensland to oppose this measure upon the ground that the railway ought to be constructed so as to benefit that State. I take strong objection to the remark that has been made that some of us are opposing this Bill for such a reason. I say distinctly that we are opposing it, as we did before, because we think that the route proposed is not the best one, and that the Commonwealth Parliament should have a free hand.
– The honorable senator is opposing the Bill because he does not want the Commonwealth to be confined.
– I am opposing it because the Commonwealth ought to have discretion to alter the route of the railway to suit the interest of the whole people. If I believed we already had that power, I should be the last to oppose the measure.
– The honorable senator’s objection is narrowed down to a bend in the railway.
– I have distinctly stated that my objection is to the Commonwealth being bound to any specific route.
– The honorable senator has said that if the railway be taken outside the boundary of Northern Territory he will be satisfied.
– I emphatically deny having said any such thing. As long as the railway can be deviated to suit the interests of the Commonwealth, it is immaterial to me whether it be deviated towards Western Australia or towards Queensland. I want the best route to be determined upon in accordance with the best information available. We have not been informed whether a survey has been made. We do not know what the “difficulties in the way of railway construction in the Northern Territory are. We have been simply furnished with a lump sum by way of estimate. Engineers have told me that they do not believe that a railway can be built in that part of Australia for the sum mentioned by the Government. They do not believe that men will work there for ordinary wages.- I should hope that workmen will be paid the best wages for working in such a climate. I object to the Bill because we have nothing before us to entitle us to say what the railway will cost, or where it should go. If the Minister in charge will bring down an amendment so as to enable the interests of the Commonwealth to Be conserved I will support it; but I am not inclined to swallow the Bill holus bolus. Last week we were asked why we s’hould swallow a proposition at the dictum of New South Wales Now, however, we are asked to swallow a proposition at the dictum of South Australia. The two cases, to my mind, are exactly on all fours. The only difference is that in the case of the capital site we were left with a choice as to where the railway to Jervis Bay should go, whereas in this case we have no choice in regard to the line. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council even now will assure me that the intention of the Government is to permit the railway to deviate if it be found ad visable to do so, I shall take his word. But I do not think that he will tell me that he really believes that that is the intention. Many of us make statements which in our calmer moments we should like to correct. If the Minister was speaking officially when he said that Parliament will have power to order the railway to be built wherever it was thought advisable, and that that was the intention of the Government, 1 should at once withdraw my opposition. Senator Symon laid stress on the fact that, according to the opinion of Mr. Mitchell, the line must he constructed wholly within the Northern Territory.
– In view of that fact, can the honorable senator explain Senator Symon’s anxiety to move an amendment ?
– I think that the honorable senator, talented lawyer as he is, has some doubts as to whether the line could not be diverted from the direct route and taken outside the Territory.
– I have been induced to think in that way out of deference to the Attorney-General and the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– I understood that the honorable senator gave notice of his amendment some time ago.
– After Mr. Hughes’ opinion was published, and as a compliment to that honorable gentleman.
– Not being a lawyer, I take the words of the agreement as I find them. A further objection I have to the proposal is that, after the railway is built, it may be consigned to the scrap heap. If it is ultimately found that a railway by a different route would serve better to open up the Territory, it will be constructed, and all our expenditure on this line will only be so much money wasted.
– How could we followa shorter route than the shortest distance between two points?
– I am not talking of a shorter route. “I am talking of the best route to the most convenient market, wherever later that may be found to be. Normanton and Burketown, on the Gulf, are not at a great distance from a large portion of the Northern Territory ; and if” the country is settled the people will find a market there which will be nearer to them than Adelaide. We may spend the money of the taxpayers in the construction of a railway which will afterwards be found to be of no use. Things will, in time, rectify themselves, ‘and it may then be said that in constructing the proposed line this Parliament did not know its business. I desire that, before deciding upon any route, we should have the fullest’ information. We should have . surveys made and independent reports upon them submitted, before we are asked to pass a Bill of this description.
– No; the honorable senator means a Bill for the construction of the line.
– That is so; but if we pass this Bill, we shall be bound to follow a certain route in the construction of the line.
– Shall we not have a choice of routes within 560 miles?
– Why should we not have a choice within 600 or 700 miles ? Senator Rae is one of those who protest against the Commonwealth being bound to do anything at the instance of a State authority. But we do not rind him protesting in this case, although, if the dictation of South Australia is accepted, we may be bound to construct a line which will not be in the best interests of the Commonwealth, and which will be in the interests of a particular State. I admit that if anything is to be done with the Territory the Commonwealth must take it over. I admit that it will be our duty to spend cast sums of money in developing it, and in at least trying to settle a white population there. I admit, further, that a railway should be built; but I contend that we should not be bound by this Bill to follow any specified route in its construction. This proposal has previously been before the Senate, and honorable senators have refused to ratify the proposed agreement upon the grounds I am now urging. We are told that South Australia is not particularly concerned in the matter; but after previous Bills of a similar kind were rejected, and the new Parliament was elected, it was possibly thought that, a new Government being in office, the Bill might be carried ; and so we find it brought up again.
– Not at the request of South Australia.
– I am not saying at whose request it was, because I do not know ; but I take it that the Government would not have brought forward the proposal if they had not been requested to do so by somebody. I protest against it for the reasons I have given ; but if we are assured by the Vice-President of the Executive Council that if we carry the Bill it will be on the understanding that, in the construction of the proposed railway, this Parliament will be at liberty to follow the route which will best conserve the interests of the Commonwealth, my objection to the measure will be removed.
– I am one of those who greatly admired the enterprise of South Australia in taking charge of the Northern Territory many years ago. I agree with previous speakers that in time the Northern Territory should belong to the Federation. There is a difference of opinion as to whether, under this Bill, it will be compulsory upon the Commonwealth to construct the proposed railway wholly within the Northern Territory. It is desirable, I think, that we should give attention to the opinion expressed by such a man as Mr. Mitchell. I have his opinion here, and it seems to me that there can be no doubt that the agreement means that the railway cannot be taken outside of the Northern Territory. I understand from Senator Vardon that if we do not accept the Bill as it is South Australia will be perfectly satisfied that the agreement should come to an end. The honorable senator also gave me to understand that if the Bill is not accepted the people of South Australia may be prepared to propose as an alternative that that State should take the whole of the country up to and including the MacDonnell Range country, and that the Commonwealth should take over the Territory north of that with the debts to the date of transfer.
– That is only my individual opinion.
– Quite so, but I accept it as the opinion of a man who knows something of the feeling in South Australia. I believe that if that course were adopted the Commonwealth would be a gainer. I cannot for the life of me understand why the Commonwealth should be asked to pay for the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway and its extension to the boundary of the Northern Territory.
– Why should we pay for a railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie?
– I do not propose that we should do so. I have supported the survey of the route of that railway with the idea that it should be constructed on the land grant principle.
– The honorable, senator is still against the construction of the western line?
– Yes, except on the land grant principle. But there is this difference between that proposal and the proposal for the construction of the railway in the Northern Territory, that the Western Australian line would connect one centre of population with another, while the Northern Territory line would be constructed wholly through country that is very sparsely populated.
– - Is not the present isolation of Western Australia the great argument urged for the construction of the line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie ?
– I am aware that it is.
– Does the honorable senator not think that the Northern Territory is still more isolated?
– I find a great argument in favour of the construction of these lines on the land grant principle in the lesson we can learn from Canada. In that country the construction of land grant railways has been the means of introducing and settling a large population, and I hope that in time the construction of land grant railways in Australia will be followed by similar results.
– Does the honorable senator not think they should be called land “ grab “ railways?.
– No; I do not. If for grants of land we can get persons to build railways through country which is valued at a few shillings or a few pence per acre I do not see why we should not do so. I am in this matter most anxious that the finances of Australia shall not be burdened by an interest charge of something like ^300,000 a year for works from which we can hope to get but very little return.
– The honorable senator opposes the Bill in order to induce South Australia to build the railway on the land grant principle.
– Or to induce South Australia to submit the alternative proposal to which I have referred. I have here a sketch of the Queensland idea of the route which should be taken by the proposed railway, and it is evident to me that even if the railway is constructed by the direct route nothing can prevent the Queensland Government constructing a line which will compete with it, and largely reduce the revenue which we might otherwise expect from it. There is nothing to prevent the Queensland Government from constructing a line to Camooweal, and I should imagine that if the Commonwealth had control of the Northern Territory this Parliament would, for defence and other purposes, be prepared to connect that line with Pine Creek. We should then have a line competing with the proposed line through the Northern Territory.
– Competition is the life of trade.
– I admit that, but I do not think that the honorable senator wishes to see a line constructed which would compete with his favorite line. I am glad that our South Australian friends will not be angry with us if we reject the agreement.
– We shall experience more sorrow than anger.
– I propose to read one or two extracts from the opinion of Mr. Mitchell. K.C. - a gentleman with whom I have the pleasure of being acquainted, and who occupies a position in the very forefront of his profession. Senator Symon, I may add, is a very modest man. I recognise that he is a distinguished legal authority, and when his opinion is supplemented by that of an eminent counsel like Mr. Mitchell, I feel sure that if we subscribe to the agreement which is embodied in the Bill, we shall not be honest, unless we do so upon the basis of that opinion. Mr. Mitchell says -
In my opinion, upon the true construction of the agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and the State of South Australia, the Transcontinental Railway cannot be diverted out of the Northern Territory so as to be built partly in a State other than South Australia.
There can be no reason why this agreement should not be construed according to the ordinary canons of interpretation, and taking the natural meaning of the words and reading the agreement as a whole, and having regard to the subjectmatter with which it is dealing, I feel no doubt that the intention of the contracting parties was that the northern part of the railway should be made wholly within the Northern Territory to some point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper, and the southern part should be made from some point on the Port Augusta railway to the same point on such northern boundary.
I am influenced in the opinion I have arrived at partly by the language of clause 2(c) which, to my mind, as clearly shows that the northern part of the railway was intended to be in the Northern Territory, as it does that the southern part was intended to be in South Australia proper. There is no reason that I can see why if clause is general enough in its language to enable the northern half to be made partly in another State so long as it eventually reaches a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper, the southern half should not also, under the general language of clause1(d), be made partly out of South Australia so long as it eventually reaches the same point. Hut I think clause 2(c) in each case demonstrates there was not this intention.
I think the agreement, if and when adopted by the Commonwealth Parliament, wouldprimâ facie impose an obligation on the Commonwealth to construct the railway within a reasonable time. What would be a reasonable time in the case of the Federal Government would depend upon so many considerations which are absent from an ordinary agreement between private persons or even between public corporations, and questions as to enforcing such an obligation legally would present so many difficulties that I think practically the matter could hardly be finally dealt with in a Court of law. Any question of enforcing such right also must depend upon the exact terms in which the Federal Act was ultimately passed.
Nobody has a greater admiration than I have for the great enterprise and selfdenial which South Australians _ have exhibited in administering the affairs of the Northern Territory for many years at a loss. But what does surprise me is that they are not prepared to give the Commonwealth easier terms in order to get rid of an annual loss which is very considerable.
– Even the States do not like to part with their debts.
– I recognise that South Australia has a right to make the best bargain that she can, but in her own interests I did not think that she would have attempted to exact such stiff terms as she wishes to impose.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.5].- There seems to be considerable misapprehension on the part of honorable senators regarding the history of the negotiations for the acquisition by the Commonwealth of the Northern Territory, and an inclination has been evidenced to put the position of South Australia in a much more favorable light than a perusal of the documents connected with this matter warrants. Originally the Territory was offered to the Commonwealth, subject to only one condition, namely, that the Commonwealth should recoup South Australia the indebtedness which she had incurred in connexion with its administration up till the time of its transfer. That offer was made by the late Sir Frederick Holder, when he was Premier of South Australia, and, although it did not receive parliamentary sanction great weight attaches to it by reason of the well known fairness, discretion and good judgment of that distinguished gentleman. Those of us who had the pleasure of an intimate acquaintance with him during the years that he filled the office of Speaker of the other branch of the Legislature speedily learned that the reputation which he brought from South Australia was thoroughly well deserved. I repeat that when the Territory was originally offered to the Commonwealth no attempt was made to impose upon this Parliament any obligation to build a railway through it.
– Does not that show that delay has been to the disadvantage of the Commonwealth - that the price has gone up?
– No stipulations of that character were made. When negotiations for the transfer of the Territory to the Commonwealth were subsequently opened up, the people of South Australia were anxious to impose very stringent conditions. That was in 1906. For instance, they proposed -
I believe that the overland telegraph line is some 200 or 250 miles distant from the Queensland border. Consequently the South Australian people asked the Commonwealth, not only to construct a railway through the Territory, but to construct it down the centre of that Territory within about 100 miles on either side of the overland telegraph line. They also stipulated
That the work of construction of the railway shall be commenced by the South Australian Government from Oodnadatta, and by the Commonwealth Government from Pine Creek end, within twelve months of the passing of the necessary Acts by the S’tate and Commonwealth Parliaments, and the approval of the transfer by the Imperial Parliament.
– Are the present terms more liberal ?
– They are not so liberal as were the original terms. Negotiations proceeded for some time with Mr. Deakin, and ultimately an agreement was arrived at - the agreement which is embodied in ‘ this Bill - and which, I presume, was regarded as a compromise on the proposals of 1906. In replying to a letter upon this subject from the representative of the South Australian Government, Mr. Deakin reverted to the year 1902, when the offer which had been made by the late Sir Frederick Holder was temporarily withdrawn on the ground that South Australia was endeavouring to get a railway constructed through the Territory upon the land-grant principle. Senators Symon and Vardon have apparently declared by way of interjection that no attempt was made to get the railway so built. It may be that parliamentary authority was not given to the project-
– There was an Act passed which empowered the Government to have the line constructed upon the landgrant principle.
– Then it is not correct to say that no attempt was made to have the railway built upon that principle?
– And tenders were called for its construction.
.- I hold in my hand a little pamphlet entitled The Truth about the Northern Territory, which was written by Mr. Parsons, in which he says -
In 1862 Parliament passed an Act, known as “ The ‘Port Augusta and Overland Railway Act 1862,” authorizing the Government to enter into an arrangement with any company or person willing to contract to construct the railway north of Port Augusta, to some point to be fixed in such agreement. The contractor was to be entitled to grants of the land occupied by the railway, and to land on either side of the railway equal to two square miles for every mile in length traversed by the railway. The time for entering into such contract was limited to five years, and it seems no one was tempted by the prospect of obtaining the concession offered.
So that, instead of the proposition being an attractive one, it was the very reverse.
– A later proposal was made in 1904.
– Yes. In that year it was proposed that a line should be built upon the land-grant principle, and allusion is made to the matter by Mr. Deakin in a letter which he wrote on 23rd February, 1906. In that communication he says -
When the Government of your State in 1902 withdrew the offer of the Territory to the Commonwealth, it was in the belief that private enterprise would be prepared to construct the railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek on the consideration of grants of land to the extent of about 75,060,000 acres, and, in addition, any profits which might be made from running the line. That project was extensively advertised throughout the world, but, so far .as this Government is aware, no offers were made to undertake it on the terms proposed.
The Acting-Premier of South Australia, in reply, pointed out -
This Government has conditional offers to construct a railway on the land-grant system. The conditions relate to the prohibition of the importation of contract labour and exemptions of Customs duties on plant and material.
Earlier in the paragraph he says -
The proprietorship of the Territory does not imply annual deficits if in the hands of a Government unhampered by restrictions such as are imposed upon the State by Federal legislation, in the shape of the bar against the importation of white labour under contract, the nonadmission of railway plant duty free. These and other disabilities, coupled with our sparse population and limited funds, render it very difficult for a small State to work the Territory, rich, as you observe, “ in potentialities of wealth,” at a profit.
Here, again, was an attempt made by South Australia to have the railway constructed on the land-grant principle, but when it failed, negotiations were renewed with the Commonwealth, and the State still adhered to the provision that the Commonwealth should continue the existing line in a particular direction and take over a railway which we know scarcely does more than pay grease for the wheels. It does not contribute a penny towards the interest on the outlay.
– Because the line is not completed.
– It is a railway over which a train runs once a fortnight each way. Having failed to induce persons to complete the railway on the land-grant principle, although the inducement of a grant of 75,000,000 acres was offered, the Commonwealth is now asked to take up the project. My complaint all through has been that South Australia is trying to impose conditions which are not reasonable.
– The honorable senator is referring to the passenger traffic, and is taking no notice of the cattle trains which are running over the line night and day.
– I am very glad to hear that all the country round Oodnadatta, and to the north and north-west, is such rich pastoral country that trains have to be run night and day in order to carry the cattle.
– So they have.
– I should like to know the number of stock which are run on that country and the acreage which is required to carry a beast. I think that the figures would astonish honorable senators. But, be that as it may, I hope not only that the Oodnadatta line has plenty of stock to carry, but that in the future it will be a great success in the carriage both of passengers and stock. I have no feeling against the successful working of the line. But 1 may mention that foi the three months ending 31st October, 1894. the passengers to Oodnadatta numbered 59 ; that is, a little less than five passengers each week, or, to put it otherwise, less than one passenger each day. The goods traffic to Oodnadatta for the same period was 130 tons, or a trifle less than a ton and a half a day.
– What about the intermediate traffic and passengers and goods ?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - The following is an account published by an intelligent observer on the occasion of his first visit to Oodnadatta in 1894- “ So far as we could see, the total traffic amounted to the carrying down of four passengers, a few bundles of sheepskins, and a ram.” This was the accumulation of a week at the terminus of a railway which had cost South Australia ,£2,160,698 - Oodnadatta to Quorn. Why extend such a line?
I do not know whether the traffic on the line has materially increased during the past sixteen years.
– There will be some of the ram’s progeny now.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I am afraid that the ram had to be taken down the country in order to save its life. Perhaps it met all the requirements of the pastoralists in the neighbourhood. That has been the return from this line to South Australia. My honorable friends may contend that that is nothing compared with what the railway would have returned if it had been carried on to the northern border and thence continued to Pine Creek. No doubt it would have cost twice as much as it did, and it is quite possible that with a population possibly of about 1,200 persons at Port Darwin, including 1,000 Chinamen, 50 whites, and 150 Malays - and a decreasing population, too, probably from the want of railway communication - the return might have been larger. In this Bill we are asked not only to take over this highly remunerative line, but to continue it for some hundreds oi miles through a similar- dry and barren country, as one of the conditions of taking over the great Bonanza which is offered to us in the shape of the Northern Terri tory. The taking over of the Territory can only be justified from a national standpoint, because it may fairly be regarded as a place through which Australia might be entered by a foreign power, which was better adapted than ourselves to occupy a tropical climate, with a view to making a settlement, and threatening domination overtime eastern portion of the Commonwealth. From a national stand-point, we are entitled to take over the Territory, even though it should involve a great loss for many years, because, among other reasons, it will be a help towards the protection of the rest of the Commonwealth. But it should be taken over without any provincial condition as to the railways being constructed by one route or the other. South Australia may say that it has spent time and money in endeavouring to develop the country, and does not want to see it revert to its original condition. But the Commonwealth has no reason to take this project in hand, except to develop the country and do better work than any individual State could possibly do. Surely the Commonwealth should be left to its own discretion as to railway construction. The Northern Territory is not going to be developed from Adi laide, but from Queensland. The latter has a population 50 per cent, larger than that of South Australia, and its population is increasing rapidly.
– So is South Australia’s.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I believe that South Australia is very prosperous, and may it long, continue so; but I do not believe that it is progressing at the same rate as is Queensland, the land of promise to most of the people in Australia, because it has a large area of valuable land. However, appreciative we each may be of the position of our own State, we must recognise the position of other States. the Northern Territory will be developed, not from the southern States, but from Queensland, which is pushing out her railways through good pastoral country towards Port Darwin.
– How much of the Northern Territory would Queensland develop ?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I believe that it would develop the northern and central portions.
– Only the north-eastern part of it.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - How much would South Australia develop?
– The whole of it.
– Which State is in an equal position with Queensland to develop the Territory? None. South Australia may do a bit of developmental work on her northern boundary, and get, perhaps, as far as the MacDonnell Ranges, which it is said are rich in minerals and metals; but we should also endeavour to develop the northwestern portion. Many of the high inland plains are probably suitable for agricultural as well as for pastoral purposes; but the best of the pastoral country is, I believe, more to the north and north-west. If South Australia is prepared to trust the Commonwealth so far as to believe that it is capable and willing to do a fair and honorable thing with the Northern Territory, it ought not to attempt to impose any leg-roping conditions as to the railway route. If the Commonwealth found that the best route to develop the Territory would be one running through its centre down to South Australia, it should be free to adopt that route ; but if, on the other hand, it found that the Territory should be developed by a railway going in another direction, it ought to be free to act accordingly. If, however, we accept the agreement, we shall be bound to construct the railway by a certain route, even though it is not the. best one for developing the country ; and we shall have to construct other railways in order to developthe country on truly national lines. In that way, we shall be called upon to spend millions which we can never hope to get recouped. We should be left free to develop the Territory in any direction we like. 1 am not singular in thinking that the railway will have to be deflected towards the eastern boundary. In a speech which was delivered in the South Australian Parliament on the 15th October, 1907, the Commissioner of Crown Lands made this statement -
They held this opinion, but in discussing the question with Mr. Deakin he pointed out, and properly so, that it would be unwise to bind the Commonwealth Government to construct the line of railway within a stipulated time, Mr. Deakin, however, undertook to construct the line from Port Darwin through Central Australia to join the existing railway at Oodnadatta, or to go through what was considered to be very much better country - from Pine Creek, viâ Camooweal, down alongside the borders of Queensland, and the territory west of Birdsville, and down to Port Augusta, vid Hergott.
If’ honorable senators look at the map hanging upon the wall of this chamber, they will see that the railway marked upon it shows a deviation to the eastward of the Queensland border, running down through a portion of Queensland territory, and striking South Australia again on its northern boundary. The Commissioner of Crown Lands in the South Australian Parliament pointed out that this was considered to be a better route. I have made inquiries as to how far Camooweal is situated within the Queensland border, and find that it is about 7 or 8 miles on the inside. A railway of this kind would be more truly national than would be a line which could not be connected with the eastern sea-board except at enormous expense. The Commissioner of Crown Lands pointed out that it would be a mistake to suppose that the line which he suggested would develop Queensland at the expense of South Australia, because that State would gain her ends by having the railway connected with Port Augusta, and would also be afforded additional opportunities for securing a little of the Queensland trade. It is beside the question for Senator Symon to say that the suggestion of the South Australian Commissioner of Crown Lands is immaterial, because it has not been brought before this Parliament in connexion with the agreement. The suggestion is particularly material, in view of the fact that it was made by the State Minister who was primarily connected with this agreement. The speech to which I have referred cannot be too freely quoted, with the object of impressing upon honorable senators the importance of the Commonwealth retaining power in regard to the construction of the railway. Senator Symons proposes to submit an amendment, with the object of making the Bill quite definite from his point of view, and he urges that it ought to secure general support. The honorable senator thinks that I. who do not believe in the Commonwealth being bound to any particular route, ought, in order to secure certainty, to give a vote to his amendment. I reply, “ Certainly not.”
– Those who believe in tying the Commonwealth up have a right to declare their intention quite clearly.
– Those who believe in tying the Commonwealth ought to give a vote for Senator Symon’s amendment. I admit that those who believe that the railway should be constructed through the Northern Territory ought to vote so as to place this measure beyond the possibility of litigation hereafter. We can all see that as. the Bill stands it is possible to have a misunderstanding. Senator Guthrie has interjected that South Australia took over the Northern Territory when no other State was prepared to do so. I admit that. But the South Australian Commissioner of Crown Lands, in the speech to which I have referred, has expressed the view that South Australia should never have accepted the Territory. He points out that that State had no connexion with it, except geographically, and that that connexion was shared with Queensland. He observed, “ We are separated from it by a desert sometimes impassable.” Where is that desert? It must be to the north of Oodnadatta, in the country through which we are asked to con- struct a railway. We can imagine with what reluctance South Australia contemplates the surrender of tire Territory when her own Minister says of it -
The Territory has been a weakness to us from the first day, and I believe it never would have been ours but for a foolish anxiety to show that, although a small community, we were capable of big things.
Again, the Minister said -
From the first it has directly and indirectly added to our national debt, burdened our annual revenue, hindered the development of South Australia proper, and given us no end of trouble. It will be a growing care and increasing loss to us as long as we retain it.
Vet, the Commonwealth is to be bound by all sorts of restrictions in taking over this piece of country- This South Australian Minister knows what he is talking about. He knows that the debt on the Territory has been increasing year after year throughout the forty-seven years of South Australia’s control. Yet we are asked to believe that the Commonwealth is receiving a great gift from South Australia. I will be bound to say that the responsibility for it will -involve the electors of the Commonwealth in millions of expenditure. It may be that there are reasons why we should take over the Territory for the benefit of Australia “as a whole, but we should not do so for the benefit of any particular State.
– If South Australia had done what Queensland did and had developed the Territory by means of coloured labour, it would have been a rich possession.
– Had it not been for the policy of the Commonwealth, South Australia would have been prepared to have the Territory developed by coloured labour. If this agreement falls through and South
Australia makes up her mind not to agree to what the Commonwealth believes to be fair, I feel sure that South Australia will not be in a position to develop the Territory on her own account. She will find herself unable to do so. Eventually she will have to come back to the Commonwealth, and I dare say the Commonwealth will then have to undertake a larger responsibility in the way of accumulated debt than is the case to-day. It is not in the interests of either South Australia or the Commonwealth that the accumulated debt should be increased on account of the obstinacy of the State concerned. We are told that it is necessary for the Commonwealth to build die railway in question in order to provide for the defence of Port Darwin. But before we could convey troops to. Port Darwin by that line the enemy would be able to make his position secure. The only way to defend Port Darwin effectually, if this railway were constructed, would be to send troops there ‘ by sea.
– The port could not be defended unless it were fortified.
– It would be impossible for us to keep sufficient troops there to meet all emergencies. We require to be in a position to move troops about from place to place ; and if troops are to be moved the most expeditious routes ought to be open to the authorities.
– If the forts at Port Darwin were silenced would it matter by what route the railway had been constructed.
– If it is necessary to take troops to Port Darwin they should be taken by the quickest and shortest possible route. From the point of view of the development of the Territory we should adopt the shortest route, and the route through the best country. I am entirely opposed to our being tied up in any way as to the route of this railway. I think we should say that we are prepared to construct railways where, after careful inquiry, their constructionmight be shown to be most conducive to theeffective development of the Territory, and to the greatest advantage of the whole of Australia, irrespective of the interests of any particular State. I am not prepared to go beyond that. Unlike the honorablesenator who said that if it were agreed that the railway might be taken through Queensland, he would be willing to accept the
Bill, I believe that we should have an absolutely free hand in the matter. We may reasonably agree to relieve South Australia of all responsibility in respect of the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, and to extend that line to -the southern boundary of the Northern Territory, recognising that it was constructed in the first place as part of a transcontinental line ; but I think we ought not to bind ourselves to construct any particular line of railway in the Territory itself.
Progress reported. (See page 3460).
– I have to report that 1 have received the following message from the House of Representatives -
The House of Representatives returns to the Senate the Bill intituled “ a Bill for an Act to grant and apply a sum out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the service of the year ending the thirtieth day of June One thousand nine hundred and eleven for the purposes of Additions New Works Buildings &c, and acquaints the Senate that the House of Representatives has disagreed to the amendment made by the Senate as indicated by the annexed schedule for the following reason - Because it alters the destination of the vote.
The House of Representatives desires the reconsideration by the Senate of the Bill in respect of the said amendment.
Speaker, House of Representatives.
Melbourne, 21st September, 1910.
Schedule - Division 3, subdivision 6, leave out the words “ at Triffitt’s Point.”
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That the message of the House of Representatives be taken into consideration in Committee of the whole forthwith.
Senate’s Amendment. - That the item “ Tasmania new quarantine stations, including acquisition of land at Triffitt’s Point - towards cost, £1,300,” be amended by the omission of the words “ at Triffitt’s Point.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment disagreed to.
. -I move-
That the Committtee does not insist on the Senate’s amendment, disagreed to by the House of Representatives.
I should like to point out that the reason given by the House of Representatives for disagreeing to the amendment is one which would have prevented a similar amendment being made by that House itself in view of the message from the Crown. When the amendment was proposed it was pointed out that however much we might desire to fall in with . the views of honorable senators who supported it, it was a serious matter and involved delay in the passage of a Bill providing money to be spent in various parts of the Commonwealth. But the Senate in its wisdom persisted with the amendment. It was stated at the time by the Leader of the Opposition that the amendment would enlarge the powers of the Government in dealing with the vote included in the Estimates for a particular purpose, since it would do away with the specified destination of the vote. It would be a very dangerous thing at any time to extend in such a way the power of any Government, even a Labour Government, earnest as they might be to do right. It might lead to what has often been characterized in the Senate as “ log-rolling,” and even worse than some of the operations of Tammany in the United States. I hope we shall not waste much time in the discussion of this matter, because it is urgently necessary that in the interests of every part of the Commonwealth, this Appropriation Bill should be passed as quickly as possible.
. -I regret very much that I am unable to compliment the Ministry upon having acted with candour in this matter, so far as the Senate is concerned. On Friday last, we were given two reasons by the Government for resisting the amendment. The first was that it involved delay. It was pointed out that if the amendment were accepted, the Bill would have to be returned to another place, and some time would be occupied there in dealing with it. As showing how insincere that argument was, it should be mentioned that the House of Representatives has taken action to disagree to the amendment at the instigation of the Government, and not of its own volition.I venture to say that had the Government accepted the amendment in the spirit in which it was offered, they would have invited the House of Representatives to accept it, and the Bill would now be in a position to be presented to the GovernorGeneral. Whatever delay has occurred has therefore been due entirely to the action of Ministers. Something dangerously near a subterfuge can be detected in the second argument used against the acceptance of the amendment. The Minister dealing with the matter in the Senate assured honorable senators that he would have further inquiry made with a view, if the facts justified it, of discarding Triffitt’s Point, and locating the proposed quarantine station at some other place acceptable to the people of Hobart. Why are we now asked to undo what we did the other day?
– Because the Government are determined to spend the money at Triffitt’s Point.
– Because we are told that our amendment alters the destination of the vote. The Government are trifling with us now in asking us to accept that as a reason for not insisting upon our amendment, or they were only -playing with us when, on Friday, they said they would be prepared to alter the destination of the vote if inquiry justified it. The inquiry might demonstrate completely that Triffitt’s Point is not a suitable place for the establishment of a quarantine station, but if the reason assigned by the House of Representatives for disagreeing to the amendment be sound, the Government could not establish the station elsewhere, because that would not be altering the destination of the vote.
– The vote could be knocked out if that is the desire of the Senate.
– It is not the desire of the Senate, and I have yet to learn that the Senate has not, under the Constitution, a reasonable and proper method of expressing its opinion upon any subject brought before it.
– It would be better to knock out the item than to stultify ourselves.
– The amendment was moved, I understand, by a supporter of the Government, and if the Government had been in a reasonable frame of mind they would at once have accepted it.
– The Government, prior to the vote on the amendment, fully discussed the matter with the members of a certain deputation.
– I have nothing to do with deputations. Let me ask the Honorary Minister how he reconciles his assurance that further inquiry would be made into the matter with the action he is now taking in conjunction with his colleagues? What is the use of further inquiry if we shut out an opportunity of acting upon it? Of what use would it be to invite officers to go to the trouble of further inspection of localities, and present reports incurring further delay, which seems now to be such a bugbear with the Government, when, after the inquiry was completed, no opportunity would be afforded to act upon the reports ? I have never been one to say that on all occasions the Senate should stand by a vote merely because it has given a decision ; but in the absence of some better reasons than have so far been afforded, I would ask honorable senators to adhere to the position they took up on Friday last. It was an’ entirely reasonable one. We said that they were not in the position to decide whether Triffitt’s Point was a desirable location for a quarantine station for Hobart. We had the assurance that the Government would make further inquiry, and that if it were shown that Triffitt’s Point was not a desirable place for the establishment of a quarantine station, it would be established at some other more desirable place. We- are told that the reason why the House of Representatives has disagreed to our amendment is that it would alter the destination of the vote.
– Not necessarily.
– It would still be open to the Government to establish a quarantine station at Triffitt’s Point, if, on further inquiry, it were shown that that was a suitable place. But if the inquiry demonstrated that there is another spot more convenient and acceptable to the inhabitants of Hobart, the quarantine station should be established there. It would appear that Ministers, like many of whom I have had experience, are in the hands of obstinate departmental officers, and if that is not the case, the action taken must be due to their own obstinacy. It left them free to act upon any advice they could obtain, and then unchallenged to spend the money wherever they thought it best to do so. For these reasons I hope that the Senate will either adhere to its previous decision, or insist upon some better reason being advanced for its alteration than has yet been offered.
.- I am both surprised and disappointed at the action of the Government in this matter, in view of the decision at which this Committee arrived no less recently than Friday last. When this particular item was under consideration, I asked the Honorary Minister if he realized the position of Triffitt’s Point in relation to Hobart, and if he was aware that the whole of the inhabitants of that city and of the surrounding districts are antagonistic to the establishment of a quarantine station in that locality.
– No matter where a quarantine station may be established, there will be some objectors.
– In reply to my question, the Minister quoted from a report by the Chief Health Officer of Tasmania who, I may mention- without in any way disparaging his abilities Or casting reflections upon his competency- is a comparatively recent arrival in that State - in which that officer advocated the claims of this particular site.
– Do not Drs. Norris and Elkington also say that it is a good site for a quarantine station?
– I did not know that Dr. Elkington had said so. In reply to the questions which I put to the Minister, I received something in the nature of an assurance that if the vote were agreed to, no action would be taken to establish a quarantine station at Triffitt’s Point until further inquiries into the matter had been made. Thereupon Senator Long, who was not satisfied with that assurance, submitted the amendment, which was subsequently carried. As Senator Millen has pointed out, that amendment was moved in the most friendly spirit. It was submitted for the express purpose of testing the feeling of the Committee in regard to the attitude of the inhabitants of Hobart, and of (he suburban areas north of that city upon this question. After giving the matter full consideration many honorable senators reluctantly, but from a sense of justice, felt impelled to vote for the amendment. It was pointed out at the time that if the vote were agreed to, it would not necessarily mean that the Government would not pursue inquiries, with a view to locating the quarantine station -on the most suitable site. If the effect of the amendment would be to alter the destination of the -vote, and if that be the reason why the Government cannot agree to it, how can they justify the course of procedure which they proposed to follow if the item were passed in its original form?
– They need not spend the money.
– Then the matter would be indefinitely delayed. I do not assume that there is any justification for the rejection of the amendment by another place, because I do not think that it infringes section 56 of the Constitution, which provides -
A vote, resolution,or proposed law for the appropriation of revenue or moneys shall not ; be passed unless the purpose of the appropriation has in the same session been recommended by message of the Governor-General to the House in which the proposal originated.
– The purpose of this vote is the establishment of a quarantine station.
– Exactly. The omission of the words “at Triffitt’s Point” would leave the Government free to establish a quarantine station either there, or anywhere else.
– If those words be not omitted, the Government will be bound id establish the quarantine station at Triffitt’s Point.
-But the point is that the purpose of the proposed vote is the establishment of a quarantine station.
– Yes. As Senator Millen has pointed out, the amendment would have the effect of giving the Government a wider scope for the selection of a site. The Vice-President of the Executive Council made some reference to the diversion of money from the purposes for which it was voted.
– I merely quoted what has been said here upon previous oc- casions
– If Parliament deliberately votes a Certain sum of money for the establishment of a quarantine station at Hobart, and does not limit its expenditure to any particular site, nobody can quarrel with the Government if, after obtaining exhaustive reports upon the most suitable sites, they select one of those sites. By insisting upon the amendment, we merely say to the Government, “ We give you a free hand in this matter. We do not tie you to the selection of Triffitt’s Point.” Thus, the Ministry- if they choose to establish a quarantine station on that site- will be in a position to say, “We have parliamentary authority to establish it anywhere that we may think fit.” The words “ at Triffitt’s Point “ are merely qualifying words. Surely the Government are entitled to accept the amendment, and are not obliged to fall back upon the pretext that, by so doing, they will be guilty of an infringement of section 56 of the Constitution. If the Government will not withdraw the motion which has just been submitted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I hope that the Committee will re-affirm the attitude which it took up on Friday last, and respectfully insist upon the amendment, thus bringing under the notice of honorable members of another place, the actual circumstances connected with this matter, with a view to obtaining their concurrence in our action. I understand, from information supplied to me by members of both branches of the Legislature, that, in another place, the Government, through one of their representatives, have practically intimated’ that they intend to follow the course which the Honorary Minister announced they would follow on Friday last - in other words, they propose to institute an inquiry into the matter, on the understanding that no portion of this vote w-ill be expended until they are satisfied that no better site for a quarantine station is available than that at Triffitt’s Point. If that be so, what must inevitably happen? At least twelve months must elapse before any of this money will be spent. If the Senate does not insist on its amendment, the Government cannot expend the vote for any purpose other than the establishment of a quarantine station on the site in question1. But if we adhere to our previous decision; they will be free to establish the station at any point they may think fit. There is not a Tasmania representative in this Parliament who is not whole-hearted in his condemnation of the proposal to set up a quarantine station at Triffitt’s Point. Nor is there, I believe, any but a few inhabitants of Hobart, olof the suburban area to the north of it, who do not entertain a similar view.
– I trust that the decision which was arrived at by this Committee on Friday last in respect of the proposal to establish a quarantine station at Triffitt’s Point will be reversed.
– In other words, the Government are determined to have the station there. Let the Honorary Minister be honest in his declaration.
– There is rio denying the fact that every Tasmanian representative is opposed to the establishment of a quarantine station on that site. It is all very well for them to rise and say that by the elimination of the words “ at Triffitt’s Point “ on Friday last, they desired to afford the Government an opportunity to inquire’ into the merits of eligible sites in various parts of Tasmania. As a matter of fact, they do not wish’ the Government, under any circumstances, to erect the station rft Triffitt’s Point, On the’ other hand, the Ministry say that after having instituted exhaustive inquiries into the relative merits of the! sites which were suggested by a deputation consisting of members of both branches of this Parliament, they have ar rived at the conclusion that there is no site so suitable for a quarantine station as is Triffitt’s Point. Yet honorable senators are not satisfied with the result of our investigations. Under these circumstances, the Government hope that the decision of the Senate on Friday last- will be reversed.
– Why did the Ministry agree to make further inquiries?
– The point was raised in another place by the Presiding Officer that the effect of the amendment of the Senate would be to alter the destination of the vote.
– That would not be its effect.
– I am not here to say whether or not it would be. The Presiding Officer in another Chamber has ruled that when once a vote has been submitted to Parliament, that vote must either be approved or disapproved by it.
– We can reduce the amount of the item.
– That is so. The Government do not desire the elimination of the item, though I do not know that- the adoption of that course would displease the representatives of Tasmania. But the Minister of Trade and Customs assures me that if we reverse the decision at which we arrived last Friday, not a single penny of the vote will be expended until further inquiries into this matter have been made.
– From whom will those inquiries be made?
– From the best authorities. The Government have no wish to- force upon the people of Tasmania something which they do not desire. But we ought not to be unmindful of the fact that wherever the quarantine station may be established,- objectors will be found.
– In’ this. Bill provision is made for the establishment df six quarantine stations, but the location of only one is specified.
– Because the other stations are already established. The Government have no feeling in this matter whatever other than to do that which is right, not merely in the interests of the people in and around Hobart, but in the interests of the citizens of Tasmania and Australia. Unless the reports can satisfy the Minister that a better site can be obtained, of course the establishment of the quarantine station at Triffitt’s Point will be proceeded with ; but if it can be shown to him that there is a more suitable site-
– Or one as suitable?
– Probably, I should say, as suitable a site as Triffitt’s Point.
– Can the Minister say why the Government want to remove the quarantine station from Barnes Bay.
– I do not know anything about that.
– I want to know their reason.
– I am sure that my honorable friend does not expect me tobe acquainted with every quarantine station, and to give him information about it on the spur of the moment.
– Suppose that the reports show that a better site can be obtained, what then?
– Another appropriation will be needed, and so honorable senators will have another opportunity to discuss the question.
– And more of that delay which the honorable senator says frightens him so much.
– If itis a delay which is advantageous to a State, and not prejudicial to Australia-
– The honorable senator pleaded delay; I did not.
– We pleaded that no good purposes can be served by adhering to the amendment, because the promise we gave on Friday last-will be carried out. The adoption of the amendment on that date delayed the passage of the Bill, and, therefore, stuck up public works throughout Australia. I trust that in these circumstances the decision of the Committee will be reversed.
.-I sincerely hope that the decision will not be reversed. Stronger reasons ought to be advanced by the Government before honorable senators are asked to stultify themselves. It is all very fine for the Honorary Minister to state that the matter will be held in abeyance. I have no doubt but that that will be done, and that further inquiries will be made before the money is spent. But to whom will they be addressed? Of whom have inquiries been made whenever the Government has been approached in this matter ? Of Dr. Purdy, the Chief Health Officer of Tasmania, and no doubt an excellent officer. Any remarks of mine cannot be construed, I hope, as implying that he is anything but a thoroughly capable man.
– The honorable senator is reflecting on his judgment, anyway.
– Yes; as I have a perfect right to do in regard to the selection of a site for a quarantine station. In response to representations made by various deputations, further inquiries were made, and they were always addressed to the same gentleman, in whom, of course, the Government are bound to place confidence. Each time, Dr. Purdy simply indorsed his previous report. His reports, which are in the possession of the Government, clearly indicate, or should indicate, that he has no intention to recede from the position he took up originally.
– Why should he, if he thinks he is right?
– There is no reason why he should, if he holds that view.
– Why should the honorable senator set himself up against the man who is on the spot, and knows what he is talking about? What does the honorable senator know about this matter?
– For many years, we have had a quarantine station at a place called Barnes Bay. It is located in a part of the State where it can cause no inconvenience to the public, or in any way menace the health of Hobart and its suburbs, and it has given every satisfaction. The other day, a very influential deputation waited upon the State Premier, and appealed to him to try to induce the Commonwealth Government to alter their decision to remove the quarantine station to Triffitt’s Point. He took up the stand, of course, that it was the duty of those interested to approach the Federal authorities. and that if the latter could not be induced to alter their mind, it would be useless for him to intervene. The deputation included three or four medical men, who are very prominent in their profession. The statements of Dr. E. L. Crowther and Dr. H. Benjafield have been reprinted from the Mercury; but I understand that I am not permitted, by the rules of the Senate, to quote from a newspaper. I may state, however, that these gentlemen point out that it will be a distinct menace to the health of Hobart and its surroundings if the quarantine station is removed from Barnes Bay to Triffitt’s Point. Dr. Benjafield is the local health officer for the suburbs in which it is proposed to place the station. I believe that he has sent in to the Federal Government a report which entirely condemns that site.
This gentleman, who is very eminent in his profession, is in direct conflict with Dr. Purdy.
– Is that report available?
– I presume that the Government could make it available. I could, if permitted, quote from the Hobart Daily Post a pungent paragraph in his report, but I do not think that is really necessary, because I feel the Committee will not go back on the decision to which it came on Friday after mature consideration.
– It is proposed to locate the station in the vicinity of the city abattoirs, too.
– There are a great many members of the community at Hobart who realize that the Government are allpowerful in this connexion, and who are extremely anxious to do what they can to assist them to obtain another site. They have already pointed out that the Health Officer of the City of Hobart, not the Chief Health Officer of the State, who is Dr. Purdy-
– Where does he want it?
– I do not know. I frankly admit that Triffitt’s Point offers very great facilities as a site for a quarantine station.
– If the honorable senator does not want that site, and he has admitted that he does not, would it not be better to knock out the item?
– I am willing to do so. But on Friday we sought, by carrying the amendment, to leave the Government absolutely free in the matter - to adhere to Barnes Bay if they liked, or even to adopt Triffitt’s Point. From the warden of Glenorchy I received this morning a letter expressing the gratitude of the people of the district for the action which the Senate took in omitting the reference in the item to Triffitt’s Point. He mentions, amongst other things, that it is now suggested that a site should be selected and recommended by a committee composed of certain gentlemen, who, I think, should be thoroughly qualified to act. He gives the names of Dr. Spratt, the Health Officer of the City of Hobart; Dr. Benjafield, the local Health Officer; Captain McArthur, Harbor Master at Hobart; Mr. John Shields, Inspector of. Public Buildings; Dr. Purdy, if he will act; and Captain J. W. Evans, ex- Premier, who has a very wide knowledge of the Derwent and the bay generally. A committee composed of these gentlemen would be well qualified to act and to advise the Government as to a suitable site. They propose, at their own expense and at much inconvenience, to try to bring about finality, to point out a place which will offer as many facilities for a quarantine station as will Triffit’s Point. I appeal to the Committee to pause before it takes any course which is calculated to lead to the removal of the quarantine station to that point. I want those who believe in the people of the district, particularly the children, having a beautiful and delightful spot for recreation, not to permit the Government to carry out their intention, especially when it is made perfectly clear that there are a dozen other places in which a quarantine station could be . established.
-What is the distance between Triffitt’s Point and Hobart?
– Triffitt’s Point is situated about 6 miles from the Hobart Post Office, and is in a very populous fruit-growing district, where many persons have orchards comprising from 7 to 10 acres each. We are entitled,I repeat, to know why the Government want to remove the quarantine station from Barnes Bay, where it served its purpose so well for many years under the jurisdiction of the State Government. I am sure that I should not place any obstacle in the way of the Government giving effect to their policy if I were not actuated by the best motives. I am confident that they will not regard my action as captious opposition. I am particularly anxious that the health of the district should be preserved, and that no medium of infection shall be allowed to be imported. If the quarantine station is to be established at Triffitt’s Point it will be a serious thing for Hobart, which is the sanatorium of the south. I trust, therefore, that the Senate will not go back upon the decision arrived at on Friday last.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.31].- One cannot help feeling a considerable amount of sympathy with the Tasmanian representatives in regard to the position of the quarantine station at Triffitt’s Point. But it is also just as well to pay particular regard to a statement made by the Minister, that if on further inquiry it were considered desirable to adopt some other place for the quarantine station, that ; could be done, notwithstanding the fact that Parliament voted the money in this form. That means that in the opinion of the Government it is within the power of the Executive to change the position of the quarantine station, and that the Executive have more power to deal with the destination of money voted by Parliament than the Senate has. I draw attention to the fact that in all instances where money is voted for quarantine stations the language used in the Bill is “ towards cost.” But in this instance we find the words added, ‘ ‘ including acquisition of land at Triffitt’s Point.” The reason given as to why we should n&t persist in the amendment made on Friday last is that our amendment altered the destination of the grant, and that it is not within our competency to do so. We are informed that the Presiding Officer of another place called attention to this fact, and expressed the opinion that the Senate had altered the destination of a grant. But we are not bound to accept that dictum merely because the Presiding Officer elsewhere laid it down. He is not our Presiding Officer. We have to consider what the vote was really intended for. The real intention was to provide money for a quarantine station. We did riot propose to alter that, I want the Senate to realize that what is now under consideration is not so much a blow struck at a particular locality as a blow struck at the power of the Senate. It is true that the power of the Senate is limited in certain directions, but we should be very chary before we permit any greater limitation upon our powers. If this were a measure imposing taxation or a measure providing for the ordinary annual services, we could only submit requests to another place. But we have complete power of amendment in regard to a Bill of this character. On former occasions the Senate has submitted requests to another place to increase duties. By so doing it has enabled another place to do upon request from the Senate what it had no power to do on its own initiative. But we are getting to a peculiar position if, in regard to a Bill which we have a perfect right to amend, we permit it to be laid down that we cannot make an amendment of the character in question. Are we going to whittle away our constitutional powers? Are we going to reduce them beyond what they are at present? There is always contention between legislative chambers in regard to financial matters. A Legislative Assembly, or House of Commons, or a House of Representatives, always claims the absolute right to deal with money matters, and re- sents anything in the nature of an amendment from a second Chamber. But our right in this instance is undoubted. Of course, I recognise the right of the Presiding Officer elsewhere to protect the privileges of the House. But it is equally our duty to protect our privileges. There is a very easy way out of the difficulty. If the other Chamber finds that we are determined, it can save its face by agreeing to our amendment and passing a resolution stating that such an amendment is not to be taken as a precedent. It would be absurd to think that a Bill providing for the expenditure of over ^2,000,000 would be thrown under the table simply because one House of the Legislature insisted upon a small amendment of this kind. But the amendment, though small in itself, is important in the sense that we ought not to permit our powers to be whittled away. The same principle may hereafter be ap* plied to much more important matters, as to which it is of great consequence that we should retain our privileges. I think the line as to constitutionality is being drawn a little too tightly. The main object of the vote in question was to provide for a new quarantine station, and the words “ including the acquisition of land at Triffitt’s Point “ may be regarded as surplusage. We are clearly entitled to insist upon our amendment. If the Government will only set their minds to the task they can find a very easy way out of the difficulty in the manner I have suggested.
Senator Lt.-Colonel CAMERON (Tasmania) [5.43]- - I hope that the Senate will not go back upon the vote recorded on Friday last. If there is no other situation in the vicinity of Hobart upon which a suitable quarantine station could be erected, and if Triffitt’s Point must be taken, let it be so. But I am satisfied that sufficient consideration has not been given to other sites, nor has consideration- been given to the future of the’ situation in question. As Senator Long has very clearly pointed out, Triffitt’s Point is in the centre of a suburban district of Hobart. Hobart is already in some difficulty in regard to water supply for . household purposes. In the future the water supply of the city must come from the River Plenty. That water will have to be brought past Triffitt’s Point, thus enhancing the value of the district for settlement purposes. It is, therefore, proposed to place this pest house of the community in a centre the future of which is unquestionable. The district is already settled to a large extent by small orchardists - people whom we desire to see placed on the land. This is a very serious matter for the settlers in the southern part of the State. I have no hesitation in saying that if no more suitable place for a quarantine station can be found, I shall be satisfied to let the Government have their way, but I firmly believe that the establishment of this pest-house at Triffitt’s Point would injure irredeemably the future of Hobart and the country in its vicinity. I hope the Committee will adhere to its former decision.
.- 1 believe that if the Government realized how much the people of southern Tasmania are concerned in this matter they would be willing to accept the amendment. Mention has been made of the opinion expressed by Dr. Purdy, for whose qualifications I have the greatest respect. But I might point out that there are a number of medical men besides Drs. Benjafield and Crowther, mentioned by Senator Long, who are opposed to the selection of Triffitt’s Point as a site for the quarantine station. Dr. Benjafield, at the deputation which has been referred to, said he considered it a crime against modern science to establish such a station there. He added that the station being an animal quarantine station, farmers in the vicinity would have a good cause of action against the Government if their cattle became infected from this source.
– If that contention were correct it would apply to bipeds as well, as to quadrupeds, and every one infected from a quarantine station would have an action against the Commonwealth.
– I am not prepared to indorse the contention, but it shows now strongly Dr. Benjafield feels on the matter.
– lt shows that he cannot be a very rational man.
– There were present on the deputation members of both parties in the State Parliament and representatives of the different suburbs of Hobart. It was introduced by Mr. Earle, the Leader of the State Labour party, who expressed his strongest sympathy with the views of the deputationists. We are asking the Government to delay decision in the matter.
– No, honorable senators are asking that the station shall not be established at a certain place.
– We are asking that the Government shall consider not merely the reports of two or three health officers, but of others who have investigated the matter. As Senator Findley is aware, the Department received a petition from 194 residents of the locality. I suggest now that the honorable senator might visit Tasmania and investigate the matter for himself.
– Are we to hang up the Appropriation Bill in the meantime?
– I should prefer to do that rather than have a quarantine station established at Triffitt’s Point.
– Honorable senators can knock out the item.
– We already have a completely equipped quarantine station at Barnes’ Bay which seems to answer admirably.
– The expenditure of over ,£2,000,000 throughout the Commonwealth is to be delayed for this sort of thing.
– It cannot be contended that we are advocating anything of that kind.
– Then knock out the item.
– We are willing to take any course to induce the Government to view this matter in a proper light. I should like now to get the assurance of the Honorary Minister that he will visit Tasmania during the recess and inquire into the matter before the Government determine upon a course of action which will grievously disappoint not only the people of southern Tasmania, but of the whole of the State.
– I wish to say a. word or two with respect to the remarks made by Senators Long and Ready about the present quarantine station at Barnes’ Bay. I admitted when Senator Long asked me the question that I was not familiar with the place, but in the meantime I have ascertained from Dr. Norris, the Commonwealth medical officer, some information on the subject. Senator Ready says that Barnes’ Bay is a most suitable place for a quarantine station, and that there is already a well-equipped station there. The facts are against the honorable senator.
– We have not heard many complaints about it.
– I prefer to be guided by the opinion of men who are competent to express a valuable opinion as to the suitability of the place for a quarantine station. Would Senator Long accept the opinion of Dr. Elkington?
– I would. I respect him very much.
– He reports that the site at Barnes’ Bay is an unsuitablie one. It is on an island and is difficult of access. Dr. Nords gathered from Dr. Elkington that he would not be prepared to undertake the administration of quarantine effectively at Barnes Bay.
– Is it a matter for the convenience of the health officer or of the public?
– It is reported that the water supply is precarious, and the present buildings are altogether unsuitable for the purpose. These opinions of Dr. Elkington are indorsed by Dr. Purdy.
– But we should have to construct new buildings at Triffitt’s Point.
-It is proposed that they shall be much more up-to-date than the buildings at present at Barnes Bay. If we are to consider the objections of those who have vested interests in and around the proposed site, and not the health of the inhabitants, not merely of Tasmania, but of the whole of Australia, honorable senators will adhere to the vote they gave last Friday. We ought to bc guided, not by the views expressed by property-owners, but by the opinions of those qualified to advise us in such a matter. Such officers have reported favorably on the proposed site at Triffitt’s Point, and unfavorably of Barnes’ Bay. The Commonwealth medical officer, a highly qualified man, has visited the different sites, and indorses the opinions expressed by the local health officers in regard to Barnes’ Bay, and other sites mentioned; and is strongly in favour of the establishment of the station at Triffitt’s Point. His only motive is to serve the best interests of the inhabitants of the whole of Australia. We have a complete answer to the argument that the establishment of the station at Triffitt’s Point would endanger the lives of the people at Hobart. Honorable senators are aware that there is a quarantine station established within half-a-mile of Manly, which is a place visited daily by thousands of people.
– Because a mistake was made in Sydney, is that any reason why we should make a mistake at Hobart?
– The State Government of New South Wales will not admit that they made a mistake in establishing a quarantine station at North Heads; nor do the people of Manly contend that a mistake was made. They realize that effective quarantine is of the greatest importance to the whole of Australia. Let me repeat that we cannot consider the interests of a few property-owners as against the health of the whole of the people of Australia.
– The honorable senator must be aware that objections have been urged to the establishment of the quarantine station near Manly.
– No matter where a quarantine station is established, there will be objections ; but it is for the Committee to consider, not the objections of interested persons, but the best interests of the people generally.
– The honorable senator has made up his mind that Triffitt’s Point is the best site.
– Up to the present moment, all the information supplied goes to show that Triffitt’s Point is a suitable site.
– Then of what use is it to talk of a further inquiry ?
– I say that those who object to the selection of Triffitt’s Point have the assurance of the Minister controlling the Department that, if further reports show that a more suitable or as suitable a site for a quarantine station can be secured, the work will not be proceeded with at Triffitt’s Point. Until that has been shown, the Government must stand by their proposal.
– The Honorary Minister has just advanced the best argument why the Committee should insist upon the amendment. Our only object in pressing it was to give the Government an opportunity to make full inquiry before it decided upon the actual location of this quarantine station. The amendment of the Senate would not have the effect of preventing the Government from establishing a quarantine station on Triffitt’s Point, if, after the fullest investigation, they determined it was the most suitable site. For that reason, I feel bound to stand by the decision at which this Chamber arrived on Friday last.
Question - That the Committee does not insist on the Senate’s amendment - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment insisted on.
– Before proceeding further, I wish to ask whether our procedure would not be more strictly in order if the Bill were returned by message to the other branch of the Legislature, accompanied by some reason for the decision which we have just re-affirmed? We have received from the House of Representatives a message, in the usual form, assigning a reason why it asked the Senate to reconsider its previous; determination. Under these circumstances, it appears to me that our proper course, in returning the measure to the other branch of the Legislature, is to assign some reason why we have been unable to concur in the suggestion contained in that message.
– I think it would be better if the Senate first adopted the report. If necessary, I shall then be prepared to move that Senators Millen, Keating and Long be appointed a Committee to draw up reasons why the Senate insists upon its amendment.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That Senators Millen, Keating, and Long be appointed . a Committee to prepare reasons for the Senate insisting on its amendment.
– I do not see anything in our Standing Orders relating to the procedure which we are now adopting. Standing order 221 reads -
In any case, when a Bill is returned to the House of Representatives with any of the amendments made by the House of Representatives disagreed to, the message containing such Bill shall also contain such reasons for the Senate not agreeing to the amendments proposed by the House of Representatives -
– That is the position now.
– No. This is not a case in which an amendment has been made in a Bill by the House of Representatives. It is a case in which the other branch of the Legislature has disagreed with an amendment which has been made by the Senate. The Standing Orders relating to this matter are 231 and 232. Standing order 231 reads -
In cases where the House of Representatives -
Disagrees to amendments made by the Senate ; or
Agrees to amendments made by the Senate with amendments; the Senate may -
Insist, or not insist, on its amendments.
That is what we have done. There does not seem to be any standing order which provides that we should assign reasons for our action in the present instance.
– I ask leave to withdraw my motion. If that course be adopted, the Bill will then be returned to, the House of Representatives with a message intimating that the Senate has insisted upon its amendment.
– I agree with the course which the Vice-President of the Executive Council now proposes to take. It seems to me that it is optional with the Senate to transmit either an elaborate or a brief message to the other Chamber. There is nothing in our Standing Orders which provides for the appointment of a Committee to assign reasons for our decision.
– I think that the position which has been taken up by the Vice-President of the Executive. Council is the correct one.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Yesterday afternoon Senatorclemons made a personal explanation regarding an incident which took place here a day or two ago. Owing to the terms in which he brought the matter before the Senate I was not able to offer any criticism; but he, of course-,, must realize that1 his action met with the very cordial approval of honorable senators on this side-. I wish to take this, opportunity of assuring the honorable senator that if, in the heat of the moment, or in the heat of argument, I used any remarks which caused him either annoyance or pain, I unqualifiedly withdraw them, and!, further, express my regret for having uttered them.
Honorable Senators. - Hear,, hear !
In Committee. (Consideration resumed from page 3450).
– The Attorney-General, speaking on behalf of the Government,, as he must have spoken, has expressed the- view that, under this measure, the Commonwealth might take the railway outside the Northern Territory. When the Vice-President of the Executive Council was asked by me whether the Government would stand by the Attorney-General’s statement, he said that if it were found expedient, to make an inquiry, and it were found desirable or advisable to take the line outside the Territory, the Government would do so. Immediately afterwards, after pressure from myself, Senator Symon rose to point out that if that were so, the Bill was not worth the paper on which it was written, so far as the agreement concerned the people of South Australia, because they would immediately repudiate it. Whether the opinions of the Attorney-General and others, which have been, expressed, on the interpretation of the agreement are or are not sound in law, we come to this position : That, the Vice-President of the Executive Council has stated that, his colleague has, to some extent, expressed the mind of the Government. Suppose that the Government tried to find a route outside the Territory. They would be met at once, if Senator Symon’s view be correct, by the South Australian Government with an injunction. And suppose that the High Court, decided that Senator Symon’s construction of the agreement was correct, as I am inclined1 to think it is, what would be the result? The Parliament would be bound to tear up the agreement, because it did not express its intention. I am not blaming Senator McGregor in any respect; but the Government are- drawn- into thisposition through a deliberate expressionof opinion by the Attorney-General. Whether he was right in law or not, he was, presumably, expressing, on a question of fact, an opinion whichwould bind the Government, and we must take it that he declared their intention. I rose immediately after Senator Givensmoved his amendment, in order to find out the legal position, and to elicit a statement from .the Government. I had to pressSenator McGregor before he would make a reply. It is not a question of law,, but a question of fact and intention which wehave to consider. The Attorney-General dragged the Government into the question’ of fact through the question of law, and I am endeavoring to drive the Government into stating what is their, express intentionas to a matter of fact, namely, the con?struction of the railway. Senator McGregor possibly expressed their intention, in giving the answer he did to my question, bur it was only given after some pressure had’ been exerted from this side. I was sufficiently acquainted with the facts to perceive the position into which the AttorneyGeneral had driven the Ministry. When I pressed the point Senator Symon at oncepointed out that if Senator McGregor had’ expressed, the intention of the Government there was a possibility of the route being, deflected to> the east or to the west. Immediately the. Minister admitted, under pressure, that there was, Senator Symon, onbehalf of South Australia, rose and said. “ No, the railway must be constructed absolutely within ‘ the Territory.” In a matter of spending millions to defend Australia, and to- carry out a great national work either on the question of law or onthe question of fact, the Government are hopelessly mixed, as- has been conclusively shown here. Suppose that the Government tried to go outside the Territory by only one inch, or, if you like, by one mile, and that on appeal the High Court gave a decision adverse to them. What would be their position as an honest Government? They would be bound to come down here and say, “ We never intended’ that; it is not the intention of Parliament; we shall therefore tear up the agreement and throw it into the waste-paper basket.” That is the significance of the position now, both as a matter of law and as a matter of fact. It is somewhat humiliating that on an important point which involves an expenditure of millions of pounds to make Australia strong through its weakest point, neither on the question of law nor on the question of fact are we at this stage certain. And though Senator Givens opposed a more direct attack which I made at the second-reading stage, I congratulate him upon his dexterity in directing an attack at a more vulnerable point.
– I have moved the same amendment this year as I did last year.
– I quite understand that. I only wished to get at the point by a quicker and more direct way, but I congratulate the honorable senator upon seizing this opportunity in order that the question of law and the question of fact, too, may be determined. Leaving on one side the question of law, the question of fact is equally important.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 f.m.
– On the question of law, it is now clear that the whole matter under discussion is in the clouds. On the question of fact, of which the Government ought to be the sole judges, we have two contradictory expressions of opinion from representatives of South Australia. One has been given by the VicePresident of the Executive Council, relying upon the view of the Attorney-General. The second has been given by another representative of South Australia, who has told us plainly that, if the view of the Government be correct, the agreement might as well be put in the wastepaper basket, inasmuch as it is not worth the paper it is printed upon. That being so, from what stand-point are we to regard this matter? Are we faced with one huge game of political bluff? I will leave that point with the assurance that, while I do not blame the Vice-President of the Executive Council for what he has said, I do blame the Government, and particularly the Attorney-General, for giving expression to an opinion which, in the view of a prominent representative of South Australia, makes the agreement upon which this Bill is founded absolutely worthless.
– The Government are not responsible for what Senator Symon says.
– But they are responsible for what the Attorney-General says.
– Of course we are; we stand by his opinion.
– Very well, then ; will the Government accept from Senator Givens, and from me, an amendment insuring to the Commonwealth that freedom which the Attorney-General and the Vice-President of the Executive Council say the Bill is intended to give?
– When the Greeks bring gifts–
– The honorable senator cannot get out of his difficulty by means of a mutilated Greek quotation. 1 ask him plainly whether the Government will accept an amendment from this side of the Chamber, in order to carry out what the Vice-President of the Executive Council says is really the intention of the Government. The only answer that I get is a sort of gibe, and a mutilated classical allusion. I shall now deal with another aspect of the question.
– We feel relieved that the honorable senator has left the other aspect.
– I have no doubt that the Minister is delighted to escape. But while his Government may be relying upon their majority to carry thisproposal through without the dotting of an ” i” or the crossing of a “ t,” the criticism directed towards it has, nevertheless, exposed a tremendous weakness.
– That is why we feel uncomfortable.
– The majority upon which the Government rely to-day may turn against them to-morrow, as was the case an hour or two ago. The other aspect of the question is this : Any honorable senator who will study the map will learn that both New South Wales and Queensland - and especially Queensland - are driving their railway lines from the seaboard westward. Experience has shown that the more railways are taken westward, the more remunerative they become, and the more effective they are for developmental purposes. Take the territory of New South Wales. Between Broken Hill and Cobar there is a little town called Wilcannia, which is the centre of a pastoral district. It is contemplated to build a railway in that direction. Turn to the map of Queensland. There is an important line running westward from Brisbane to Charle-ville, and another from Rockhampton in the same westerly direction. The line from Townsville to Cloncurry must be carried, still further westward. All those lines are proving remunerative. Now, as development proceeds in the direction of Cobar and Broken Hill, it will be absolutely necessary to connect those railways by means of a line running north and south. The Governments of New South Wales and Queensland are fully seized of the fact that they must extend their railways westward ; and, in order to carry out that policy effectively, from a developmental point of view, there must be a transverse line. The result will be that, whether the Commonwealth Government does or does not construct a railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, there will, in a short space of time, be a railway, transcontinental in its economic, effects, which will run from the southern portion of New South Wales to the Gulf of Carpentaria.
– Why should the honorable senator worry if he has correctly described what is going to take place?
– I am not worrying if the honorable senator is not. Whether we expend millions in the construction of the proposed railway within the Northern Territory or not in the process of the natural development in the eastern States the railway construction .to which I have referred will be carried out “without any cost to the Commonwealth. If it be as successful as the experience of the railways already constructed in those States would lead us to believe it will, we shall have a great transcontinental line which will be a part of the railway systems of the eastern States competing with the proposed line through the Northern Territory and making it as useless as scrap iron. If honorable senators opposite object that I am anticipating the very distant future and drawing upon my imagination ‘ as to what it is likely to be, my answer is that under this proposal this Parliament will not be allowed to consider the. course which should be followed in view of the prospective development of railway extension in the eastern States, but must follow the route .proposed by South Australia “for the Northern Territory’ line. In every Parliament in Australia but this, where there is a difference of opinion as to the route which a railway should follow, the matter is referred to a committee for inquiry. The whole of the facts are ascertained, and Parliament is then in a position to come to a wise decision. But here we are being asked to agree to a measure which will involve the expenditure of millions sterling without the right to make any investigation into the wisdom or otherwise of constructing the proposed railway along any other than the route proposed by South Australia. We are being asked to spend millions on a line through country which, during the last forty or fifty years, has given practically no return in revenue.
– According to the honorable senator’s argument, if tho Queensland railways were extended to the west coast of Western Australia, they would pay all the better.
– I think so, but I may be wrong. The point is that if I am right the Government are making a mistake; and whether I am right or wrong, this Parliament in considering the construction of a railway in connexion with which there is a difference of opinion as to the route which should be taken should be placed in a position to consider the merits of each route suggested.
– Would the report of any committee alter the honorable senator’s opinion in this matter?
– The honorable senator’s interjection accurately reflects the state of mind of every representative of South Australia who has expressed an opinion on the subject. Nothing we can do or say will induce them to permit this Parliament to secure the advice and guidance of experts in deciding this proposal.
– We can do that when we are going to construct the line.
– It will be too late then. The Vice-President of the Executive Council should tell the other representatives of .South Australia that, no matter what they say, this Parliament must’ have some liberty of action in the matter. He knows now that if under the agreement we proposed to ask for information before deciding upon the expenditure of millions sterling in railway construction in the Northern Territory, South Australian representatives would urge that the agreement should be torn up.
– This Bill does not provide for the expenditure of money.
– The measure first introduced to deal with the matter did propose the expenditure of money, but it had to be withdrawn. Now, to meet my argument the honorable senator is reduced to the subterfuge that the Bill at present before the Committee does not. propose the expenditure of any money. The more the question is considered the more clearly is it shown that this is all a game of bluff. Of what use is it for the Vice-President of the Executive Council to quibble in this way? Undoubtedly, the passage of this Bill will involve the expenditure of millions of Commonwealth money. It is lamentable that when these views are expressed the only answer we can get from the Minister is an elaborate disquisition upon fleas, flies, . and jam tins. The agreement would not be considered for a moment if it were not for the fact that our friends from South Australia- and the Government have sought to invest the proposal with a halo of Nationalism. We are asked to consider how much South Australia did in taking over the control of the Northern Territory
– Does the honorable senator attach a sinister motive to the unity of representatives of South Australia?
– The honorable senator talks of the unity of the representatives of South Australia, but I have pointed out that there is a magnificent diversity of opinion amongst them. I wish that one of them would give us straight out, and in plain language, a single reason why the Commonwealth should be asked to spend millions in the development of the Northern Territory without this Parliament being given the opportunity, which every other Parliament has, of considering the reasons why a proposed route should be adopted for the construction of a railway. If this is really a great national enterprise, and it is absolutely necessary that it should be carried out, why should not this Parliament be afforded a means of determining the way in which it should be carried out?
– Does the honorable senator not refer to information which might be more appropriately furnished when a Bill is submitted for the construction of the proposed railway ?
– The honorable senator forgets that we shall be committed to its construction by the passage of this Bill. I remind honorable senators again that when the Vice-President of the Executive Council suggested that under the agreement there might be liberty secured to the Commonwealth Parliament to consider some route for the proposed railway other than a direct route, Senators Vardon and Symon said that if that were so the agreement might just as well be thrown into the waste-paper basket. Who is attempting to deprive the Commonwealth Parliament of the opportunity of ascertaining the best way to develop the Northern Territory? There is not a single representative of Queensland in this Chamber who has evidenced the slightest disposition to repudiate our national obligation to take over that Territory sooner or later. We. realize that its present undeveloped condition is a menace to the safety of the Common.wealth. In the speech which- I delivered upon the motion for the second reading of this Bill, I stated most explicit)’ that I’ was thoroughly seized of the importance of the Commonwealth taking over the Northern Territory. I stated then that if we did not develop and populate it some race other than our own would do so. Consequently it cannot be urged that I am in any way unmindful of the importance of securing the transfer of the Territory to the National Government. I am prepared - and so is every member who opposes the agreement that is embodied in this Billimmediately upon the transfer of the Territory to the. Commonwealth, to recoup South Australia every penny which she has expended upon it. Was ever a fairer offer presented ? Was ever a more equitable proposal made to the people of a State to relieve them of obligations into which’ they have entered ?
– How does the honorable senator propose to develop the Northern Territory if he denies it a railway?
– That is the very point at issue.
– Had a railway been built through that country the honorable senator would be willing to take it over.
– I am willing to recoup South Australia every penny which she has expended upon the Northern Territory, with accrued interest. But when we ask the Government to afford us an opportunity to inquire into the best method of developing the Territory we are met with a blank refusal. We ‘are asked without any preliminary investigation to pledge ourselves to the construction through this country of a railway which will involve the expenditure of millions of pounds.
– When a proposal is made to construct a railway in Queensland, does anybody suggest that its route should be via New South Wales?
– What has that to do with the question?
– That is the honorable, senator’s point.
– Nothing of the sort. Before we are asked to commit the Commonwealth to the expenditure of millions sterling, I submit that we should be afforded an opportunity to investigate the route which the proposed line should traverse. No State Parliament would dream of entering upon a work of railway construction for the development of its territory without first being seized of the fullest possible data. But to-night the ordinary course of procedure has been departed from. The Vice-President of the Executive . Council and Senator Symon have distinctly told us - and their statement has been indorsed by Senators Guthrie and Vardon - that if we alter the agreement in the slightest degree we are at liberty to throw it into the waste-paper basket, so far as South Australia is concerned. Who are the beggars from the Commonwealth to-day ? The representatives of Western Australia and of Tasmania are asking for special concessions.
– And Queensland is asking for the transcontinental railway.
– Did I hear anything about bananas or sugar? Who are supporting the Government in the attitude which they have assumed upon this Bill ? The representatives of South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. They are asking us to vote millions of the taxpayers’ money while simultaneously demanding special concessions for their own States.
– For what is” New South Wales asking?
– I bow to the pure patriotism of Senator Rae and his colleagues.
– Does the honorable senator think that his remarks are relevant to the question which is immediately under consideration ?
– Possibly they are not. But I was merely remarking that the States which are begging special concessions at the hands of the Commonwealth ure those whose representatives are willing to commit the Commonwealth to an expenditure of millions sterling, whilst depriving this Parliament of the right to inquire whether that expenditure is likely to be reproductive. The development of the railway systems of the eastern States will ultimately result in a transcontinental line through Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, and when that time arrives the transcontinental railway which it is now proposed to construct will becomeso much scrap iron. Under these circumstances, I should like to know why the representatives of New South Wales wish to deny this Parliament the privilege of referring this proposal to an impartial tribunal for inquiry.
– I will tell the honorable senator by-and-by.
– I shall be very glad to hear Senator Rae’s explanation. I hold that the question should be referred to a committee of experts, whose decision we would be almost bound to accept. Senator Stewart has referred to the apparently insurmountable difficulty of settling the centre of Australia by means of a railway through the Northern Territory. He has described that country as a “ desert,” and has declared that white men who were suddenly brought into it could not develop it. When he pressed his argument in the course of a closely-reasoned address, he was told by the Vice-President of - the Executive Council that he was crying “ stinking fish.” Subsequently the Vice-President of the Executive Council professed to reply to his statements by applying to him epithets which it is to be hoped will never be repeated in this Chamber, no matter how gross may be the provocation.
– This is about the fourth time that the honorable senator has referred to that incident.
-I cannot refer to it too often.
– The honorable senator must not refer to it too often, or he will be guilty of tedious repetition.
– Senator Stewart also pointed out that the Northern Territory can only be developed by railway . connexion with the different States. A higher authority than Senator Stewart has boldly declared his opinion in the same direction. Will Senator McGregor presume to quote that authority or to compare him with a fly in a jam-tin? No. This proposal is not being argued dispassionately or on its merits. It is a sort of political machine thrown upon the table for us to deal with as we choose. I propose to quote a short extract from a report - it was not an official report, because the Government at once disclaimed it - which the then Governor of South Australia, Sir George Le Hunte, made in 1905. All that Senator Stewart has said is mildness compared with what Governor Le Hunte said in regard to the development of the Northern
Territory on the lines and in the direction indicated by this agreement. He said -
I very much respect the love of the Australian for his pure blood and his determination to keep it so. I respect his abhorrence of forced work or, as it has been called, “ slavery “ in any form. I sympathize with his desire to work his way without any unfair competition, but 1 as truly believe that he need be under no apprehension of a polluted race, or of subjecting the coloured races to any form of slavery, or of being kept out of work by any unfair competition from them. I believe that by the employment of coloured labour, indentured upon the lines of the organized systems in other tropical British possessions, Australia would find an immense source of wealth in its tropical north, which without it will never be developed.
– Does the honorable senator propose to connect this argument respecting a White Australia with the question as to whether certain provisions should be struck out of the agreement scheduled to the Bill?
– Yes, certainly.
– The honorable senator is taking a long time to come to the connexion. I do not wish to interfere with his line of argument, but I hope he will now come to the point.
– I shall show the connexion at once. I contend that the extract is pertinent to the point at issue. If you do not develop the Northern Territory in the way which we suggest, you will have to develop it by coloured labour.
– Will the honorable senator come to the question?
– I think that it might have been more or less obvious, but that is the point which I wish to make. I am arguing that if you investigate the question from the point of view which we are presenting, you will probably find that the Territory can be developed through white labour alone, but if you intend to drive a railway hard and fast through the Territory, and allow it to be the only artery pf communication, you will have to develop it, if at all, by coloured labour, and in support of that view of the matter I quoted an extract from the report of Governor Le Hunte.
– We know now to what extent the honorable senator has been a believer in a White Australia policy. After this Bill goes through, he will advocate the employment of coloured labour to develop the Northern Territory.
– There is a certain class of man who, no matter what you say, will pervert it to base ends.
– The honorable senator said that we will have to develop the Territory by coloured labour.
– No. I said that it would be done under certain conditions. An ordinary intelligence would scorn to make such a use of my words. -In quoting Governor Le Hunte on this important point, I am leaving myself open to the possibility of Senator Findley standing on a platform and saying, “ Senator St. Ledger referred to this matter,” and because I did so he will say that I used the language he quoted.
– So the honorable senator did. He said that we would have to employ coloured labour to develop the Territory.
– No. I said that Governor Le Hunte had stated that if you were to develop the Northern Territory you would have to do so by coloured labour. I did not make that statement, but the honorable senator, with the usual twisting which is worse than a lie, would pervert what I said.
– Very ‘ well, sir, I withdraw the remark, and say that in a certain manner of dealing with an argument when he is pressed, Senator Findley would take out the spirit, and almost the very letter of my remarks. I am quoting Governor Le Hunte, and the honorable senator would, by dexterity, or by ingenuity, entirely pervert them. I quoted a certain statement from the point of view of Governor Le Hunte. What is the sum total of my argument with regard to the construction of the railway? It is that if you develop the alternative route, you may develop the Territory by white people, a consummation devoutly to be wished, and in absolute’ consonance with every sentiment I have expressed on the platform, or in my place here. I defy anybody, except by an ingenious twisting of words, to say that at any time in my political career I have ever advocated anything which would help to put an alien race on the soil of Australia. This diversion caused by Senator Findley, who almost threatened me that he will use what I have said against me, leads me to say how hard pressed he must be for argument to defend his position. I submit two possible alternatives, and mention that one of them is settlement by an alien race, when the honorable senator, by insinuation, and by the grossest misrepresentation of my words, sought to turn my argument into an advocacy of the population of Australia by a race other than our own. I wish to express my astonishment at the remarks of Senator McGregor with regard to Senator Stewart, who can find justifications a thousandfold stronger for what he said as to the dangers of this policy, if he chooses to look for them. South Australia has done an heroic work. She stepped in, and took over the Northern Territory. She was anxious lest anybody else should take it up, and by reason of that fact we must not scrutinize the very letter of her agreement. I shall quote from a South Australian authority on the point to show how disinterested the South Australians were. It would seem that instead of being animated by motives of absolute patriotism, it was very much like a grab at the Territory on their part, and one persisted in, notwithstanding that they were warned by the Imperial authorities not to touch it. In a pamphlet entitled, The Truth about the Northern Territory, and issued by Mr. Herbert Angas Parsons in Adelaide in 1897, he quotes the reply sent by the Duke of Newcastle, who was Secretary of State for the Colonies, to an application from the Governor of South Australia that the Northern Territory should be added to that province -
The mode in which the northern part of Australia shall be governed is a very important question, but by no means a pressing one; and far greater mischief may be done by the illconsidered annexation of any territory to the first authority which may ask for it, than by leaving ungoverned districts which are, as yet, uninhabited by Europeans. I must add, however, that I cannot in any case anticipate that Her Majesty’s Government would adopt the proposal that they should be governed from Adelaide, from which they are separated by the whole breadth of the Continent; and bv districts of which all that can be said is, that they are proved not to be impassable. Such an arrangement would have little present convenience, and could not possibly be expected to last.
Mr. Parsons then adds to that comment these words -
His Grace suggests that annexation will follow as the progress of settlement draws along with it the necessity of government. The Imperial Act, 24 and 25 Victoria, chapter xliv., was passed, effecting the annexation’ of the strip between South Australia and Western Australia.
The Governor of South Australia pressed for two things at that time, namely, the extension of the western boundary towards Western Australia by 2 or 3 degrees, and the extension of the northern boundary to the line- which is now marked on the map, and the Duke of Newcastle administered’ the reminder which I have quoted. And’ when the time came for taking over the Northern Territory, the New South Wales Government, which then had jurisdiction over it, pointed out to His Grace that it would be well to put it within the jurisdiction of Queensland. The South Australians objected to that proposal, but it is only fair to mention that the Queens-‘ landers, through Sir Charles Nicholson,, pointed out that they had already taken up an immense portion of the sub-tropical and tropical regions of South Australia, and that the work before them was as much as they’ felt themselves capable of discharging. They asked that in the face of that gigantic task, and their enormous territory, they should not be called upon to take over a long strip of country which is now included within the Northern Territory, and South Australia finally got her way. But she was looking for the Northern Territory all the time. There was no patriotism behind her actions. And as Mr. Parsons stated in his comment, and the Duke of Newcastle pointed out in his despatch, the Territory can never be governed from Adelaide. We are now asked to accept an agreement which I think will involve a repetition of the very difficulties, and the want of success, which were pointed out by the Duke of Newcastle in his despatch in 1861. The South Australians got the Northern Territory, notwithstanding his reminder, and we know, as a matter of history, that they afterwards failed in their attempt to develop it. In 1864, after South Australia secured the Territory, a meeting of influential pastoralists was held in Adelaide. They petitioned the House of Assembly that the Albert River district, which had been attached to Queensland at the time that South Australia obtained the Northern Territory, should be detached from that State and annexed to the Territory. The petition stated -
That these three degrees contained seaports necessary as an outlet for a large proportion of the recently annexed territory, and also the route, discovered by explorers from South Ausr tralia, which, in the opinion of many, is the best, if not the only, practicable route to the new settlements. 1 wish to show the significance of that resolution. The Albert River district is in the neighbourhood of the place marked on the map as Burketown. The Duke of Newcastle held that the boundary of Queensland should be carried out as far as that point, and would not yield to the demands of South Australia in that respect. The reason the pastoralists gave was that their knowledge of the nature of the country referred to by them showed that by its relation to the Gulf, and by its possibilities, it was the line of natural development for the Northern Territory. Subsequent history has shown that the Northern Territory, deprived of the area in question, has not developed, whilst settlement and development have gone on in Queensland in the very district which the Adelaide pastoralists asked should be added to the Territory. History, therefore, has justified their opinion. The inference is that the Territory can be naturally developed along its eastward border. But, whether that shall be so or not, this Parliament will not be allowed to determine. Let the matter be submitted to a referendum of the people living in the Northern Territory, and let us see what their answer will be. My experience shows me that every one of them recognises that the true line of development is in the direction I have stated. We are frequently told that South Australia has made great sacrifices. One instance given is the construction of the overland telegraph line. I shall give a little history of that work. I wish to show that what South Australia did in that direction is likely to be paralleled now by the haste imposed upon us with regard to the taking over of the Territory. We hear a great deal about the . patriotism of South Australia, as if she were the only State which had made sacrifices. I quote from Mr. Parsons’ pamphlet the following passage, as a warning against hurry in spending money merely for political reasons. He says -
It is only fair to remember that the Housie had before it the estimate of Sir (then Mr.) Charles Todd that the cost would be about £120,000. Sir Charles Todd’s estimate, however, was admittedly based on insufficient knowledge. On 8th June, 1871, a Bill to authorize the construction of the overland telegraph line from Port’ Augusta to Port Darwin was introduced in the House of Assembly. It was then read the first time, and on 10th June the second reading was taken, and the Bill passed through all its stages. On 14th June - that is four days later - it passed the Legislative Council in one day. On 26th July instructions were given to Sir Charles Todd to carry out the work. South Australia narrowly escaped a lawsuit wilh the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, because of the delays in connexion with the construction by the Government of the overland telegraph. It is somewhat mournful reading to know that the cost of the construction of the overland telegraph was £338,059 14s. 5d., and that the cost of reconstruction of part thereof, on account of while ants, which had shown a great liking for the wooden poles, to replace which iron poles had been erected, came to £82,661 15s.5d. This made a total cost of £420,721 9s.10d. One wonders if Parliament would have rushed the measure through if they had known that the cost would have worked out at over £400,000; if legislators would, with that knowledge, have so lightly scorned all attempts to obtain the assistance of the other Colonies. And what was the precise value of the Legislative Council as a check on hasty legislation and a chamber of second thought, on this particular occasion. When we get to August, 1871, we find the Commissioner of Crown Lands, who was then desiring to introduce legislation to regulate the alienation of waste lands of the Crown, saying that, “At present he had only one pastoral settler in view; but he had more than one application from persons who were willing to settle there for purposes of cultivating the growth of rice and sugar.”
Every State recognised the importance of constructing the overland telegraph line so as to communicate with Port Darwin, to which place the Eastern Extension Company had carried its cable from Banjoewangie, in Java. The Victorian and New South Wales Governments offered to stand in with South Australia at the time, and to bear their share of the cost. Queensland at that time offered to build a telegraph line right across from Cardwell ; and when South Australia was made . acquainted with that project ‘she rushed in and built the telegraph line from Port Augusta to Port Darwin at her own cost. The kind of haste that she exhibited on that occasion is being shown now. The objections raised by the Opposition are being received with every form of derision, but not with argument. I make no apology for having dealt with the matter from a Queensland point of view. 1 trust that the amendment will be carried. We are simply, asking that there shall be no undue haste in regard to expenditure in the Northern Territory, but that the Commonwealth shall be left with a free hand. The whole of Australia recognises that South Australia has failed in her task. Every tone acknowledges the danger of the present situation, and the importance of developing the Northern Territory. But we suggest more consideration and deliberation. The amendment asks indirectly that Parliament shall have an opportunity for mature thought on the subject. Senator Symon demands that the National Parliament shall take the agreement, verbatim et literatim, without considering the details of it. We, who support the amendment, are simply asking for no more than the rights that every Parliament should insist upon, whether it is spending a few thousands of pounds or a much larger sum.
– I shall take for the text of the few remarks I intend to make a sentence used by Senator St. Ledger, to the effect that if we do not soon develop the Northern Territory with our own people some other people will develop it for us. I regard that as an admirable text for any supporter of the Bill. Senator St. Ledger has been most strenuous in his opposition to the measure, and I am sorry that he has shown no disposition to assist in carrying out in the Northern Territory the work which he says should be done there as soon as possible. He is in this matter standing behind Senator Givens, and 1 am indeed sorry that my quondam leader of only a few days ago should be found in such extraordinary company. Senator Givens has sadly fallen from the high position he occupied as a worshipper of the goddess of Australian nationalism, and has joined the company of those who refuse to look at this national question through national spectacles. In my opinion, we should remember with gratitude the action of South Australia in taking over control of the Northern Territory when it was a no-man’s land, and might have been converted into a British Crown colony into which a band of exploiters might have introduced an alien race which we should afterwards have found it very difficult to deal with.
– South Australia passed an Act to enable that to be done.
– The Northern Territory was a no-man’s land within the memory of some of the present generation, and South Australia - ambitiously, no doubt, but with very creditable results - took control of this large area of Australian Territory, and by steadfast adherence to anational policy, prevented it being exploited bypeople who for the purpose would have introduced alien races whose presence would have constituted a serious problem for the future of . Australia. Queensland might have claimed jurisdiction and control over the Territory, but she found the management of her own affairs a sufficiently difficult task. South Australia had her own proper territory to develop, and her own domestic problems to solve, but she assumed the control of the Northern Territory, and warned off the people who would have employed aliens in its development.
– Has the honorable senator seen the Act which South Australia passed for the introduction of coolies to the Northern Territory?
– I am not concerned about that. Senator St. Ledger is in this connexion living in a large-sized glass house, and if one cared to make use of it a lot of broken metal with which it might be shattered has been provided by Queensland politicians. Queensland representatives are not in a position to question what other States have done in the matter of coloured labour. The people of that State were unable to rid themselves of . the stigma which the employment of coloured labour placed upon them until this Parliament took the matter in hand.
– And then the other States had to pay for the removal of the black labour.
– I think that in fairness to South Australia we should remember the disinterested and patriotic stand she took in preventing the introduction of alien races into the Northern Territory, thus relieving us of the necessity of solving a most difficult problem. One of the most admirable qualities of an individual or a nation is a sense of gratitude and a readiness to recognise disinterested action. We should be willing in this connexion to agree that South Australia took no sordid view of the opportunities afforded by her control of the Northern Territory, and so has secured to us a valuable heritage free from complicated problems of government. We should in the circumstances be prepared to deal with that State in a very liberal spirit. I am influenced by a number of motives in supporting the Bill, and resisting the amendment moved by Senator Givens. In the first place, I feel that we should secure beyond all reasonable doubt the protection of the Northern Territory from invasion by any outside nation that may have designs upon it. In Australia a mere handful of people have a large and rich country to make use of. We have a population of only a little over 4,000,000, or less than one and a half persons to each square mile of Australian’ territory. We are within a few days’ sail, in the northern seas, of China, with a population of 266 to the square mile. There is also Manchuria, which is supposed to afford an outlet for Japan, who may be our enemy of the future, though she is our ally of to-day, with a population of 400 to the square mile. Japan herself has a population of over 366 to the square mile. Korea is looked upon at present as a place which furnishes a con-, venient outlet for Japanese subjects, but so dense is the population- there that any considerable addition to it must mean an encroachment upon the happiness and contentment of the present residents of the country. Korea has a population of no less than 116 to the square mile. Unless we choose to shut our eyes to the lessons of history, we are forced to admit that national acts of aggression in the past have been due to a desire on the part of nations to spread their empire and compel people nominally controlling territory to put it to its best use. Very seldom in the history of human events has the sword been unsheathed to enforce the right. Unhappily in the great majority of cases it has been unsheathed to enforce the wrong, and if we are “to be guided by the lessons of the past we shall take steps to see that the Northern Territory is put to the best possible use.
– That is universally accepted.
– The honorable senator agrees with the general proposition up to a certain point, but we find him interposing obstacles of every kind to a proposal intended to bring about what he professes to desire.
– He is not doing anything of the kind.
– We find Senator Stewart saying that the Northern Territory is waste country, and in this way allying himself with the people who are continually crying “stinking fish” in reference to Australia.
– Why does not the honorable senator admit that he knows nothing about it?
– In my opinion, it illbecomes any member of this Parliament to say more of an unfavorable nature than the circumstances of the case demand when describing any part of this country and especially the interior.
– Should we not tell the truth about it?
– It ill-becomes Senator Stewart to describe, as a desert, the interior of Australia, about the potentialities of which he can know nothing.
– The honorable senator was never nearer the truth than when he made that statement.
– Senator St. Ledger will bear me out that the Darling Downs district, in Queensland, was once described as a place where you could not grow a cab.bage
– The same thing was said of the wheat-fields of Western Australia.
– Let the honorable senator state what can be grown at Oodnadatta.
– I have been to Oodnadatta, and what I saw there was good country without water. We do not know what the future may bring forth, but we do know that there is a large basin in the interior of Australia where there is an inexhaustible supply of subterranean water, which might be made use of for purposes of irrigation. We had ample evidence of that on our visit to the country when we saw that by the use of this subterranean water Egyptian date palms and other similar vegetation was grown.
– How does the honorable senator know that the supply is inexhaustible ?
– I know it as well as the honorable senator knows that it is not. It has been tapped in Queensland and has been proved to be inexhaustible there.
– The wells are filling up in New South Wales now.
– As the result of corrosion of the casing, of the bores ?
– No, as the result of a diminution of the flow.
– That is due to ‘the escape of the water laterally.
– Viewing this question from the point of view of defence, we cannot afford to treat it lightly. We should be governed by stronger reasons than any put forward in opposition to the Government proposal. I was referring to the description given of this Territory, and we have only to read the opinions expressed by men who have been through it to be convinced that there is very good country there. I have here a statement made by a Queensland stock-drover that fairly describes the country. He expresses an opinion to which Senators Stewart and St. Ledger should pay some respect, seeing that it emanates from a gentleman who hails from the State which they represent. I learn from the speech which was delivered in the South Australian House of Assembly in October, 1907, by the Honorable L. O’Loughlin, the Minister controlling the Northern Territory, that Mr. Hugh Heber Percy, in 1887, delivered himself as follows -
The number of geese that we saw passing over the station at flight time was very great, from the horizon to the west to the horizon to the east, as far as the eye could reach, for about half-an-hour there were continued flocks of from 2 to 150 flying southward.
There are very few parts of Queensland where one can see geese passing over at flight time. Mr. Percy continues -
The garden, which is near the lagoon, is a capital one, having an sorts of truits and vegetables - mulberries, melons, pineapples, pawpaws, mangoes, bananas, passion fruit,figs, lemons, oranges, &c. ; they have over 700 pineapple plants, and we were assured that pineapple tops, not suckers, that were planted had borne fruit within five and a-half months. I have seen nearly all the best coast country in Queensland, and I can safely say I have seen none that I like so well: I was surprised to find it so good, as, previous to my visit here, I had heard the Northern Territory so often run down that I looked upon it as a foregone conclusion that I should see inferior country ; but it is nothing of the kind, and it is destined sooner or later to be made use of for agriculture and to carry a large population.
I trust that that quotation will specially appeal to the representatives of Queensland in this Chamber, who constitute the opposition to the proposal that the Commonwealth should take over the Northern Territory.
– How is it that no agricultural operations are being carried on there?
– I look upon this subject as one which should be approached from a variety of stand-points, but particularly from the stand-point of defence.
– I would remind the honorable senator that the question under consideration is clause 5, to which an amendment has been moved to delete from the agreement certain provisions which relate exclusively to railway construction.
– The proposal for the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth would be accepted by the Senate without opposition but for one circumstance. The opposition to it is due to the fact that no provision has been made in the Bill to permit the proposed transcontinental line to ramble from the Territory into Queensland, so long as it is eventually linked up with the Port Augusta railway. I am very sorry that honorable senators who profess to be imbued with national ideas should fail to carry forward the Nationalist flag, merely because they cannot obtain a deviation in the route of the projected railway.
– Why does not the honorable senator tell the truth?
– The very plan which has been drawn by an officer of the South
Australian Government indicates what these honorable senators desire. They wish the proposed line to be taken out of the Northern . Territory as soon as possible-. They desire it to be taken as far as Camooweal, and then to trend southward through Queensland territory. I have not much objection to that scheme, but I apprehend that its acceptance by this Parliament would mean the rejection of the agreement by South Australia. That State would then be compelled to return to the almost impossible task of developing the Northern Territory unaided.
– Impossible task.
– We know that South Australia, with her comparatively small population, cannot undertake the development of the Territory at a rate which is consistent with the exigencies of the time. It is obviously our duty to see that that portion of the continent is placed in such a reasonable state of defence as will not invite an inroad by any nation which mayhave designs upon us. The Northern Territory presents physical features and climatic conditions which are specially attractive to the Oriental races, and if once those races become established there, we shall experience very great difficulty in dislodging them. The late Boer war proved conclusively that the army in possession, has nine points in its favour. The rejection of this measure may deprive us of art important means of self-preservation; indeed, it may possibly mean the loss of the integrity of this young Australian nation. For my part, I am not prepared to risk that. After all, an expendi ture of£15,000,000 represents only about £3 per head of our population. Even if the construction of this line,, which Senator Stewart has described as a “wild-cat” scheme, commits us to that expenditure, so long as it makes for the effective defence of the Northern. Territory it will have paid for itself over and over again. If it proves to be the strongest link in our scheme of defence - even if its price were£50,000,000 - the expenditure would be amply justified.. But there are other considerations of which: we must not lose sight.
– Is the honorable senator “ stone- walling “ ?
– No; but I cannot close my eyes to projects which are in theair, and of which honorable senators havebeen notified. I hold in my hand a. pamphlet relating to the construction of” another railway for the purpose of developing the Northern Territory. A Mr. Wilson proposes that the line should go straight from Port Darwin into Queensland, and travel down that State to the neighbourhood of Longreach, afterwards trending into New South Wales. I understand that the new scheme, of which he is the author, is very favorably regarded by many opponents of the Bill. I note that his letter to the Pastoralists’ Review is written upon an envelope which bears the imprint of “Dalgety & Co., produce depot, Melbourne.” I do not know what interests Dalgety & Co. have in the western part of Queensland,- but I should infer that they must be considerable. Mr. Wilson has used the stationery of Dalgety & Co. to circularize honorable senators in favour of constructing a railway direct from Port Darwin into New South Wales.
– Would it not be fairer for the honorable senator to say that he suggests the construction of the line straight into the heart of the big populations of Australia ?
– This afternoon Senator St. Ledger spoke of the progressive policy of the Queensland Government in extending lines from the coast to the westward. If a halt be not called in that progressive policy, what is to prevent that State from extending its lines from Rockhampton, Townsville, and Brisbane, and linking them up with the proposed railway from north to south? Any person who chooses to look at the map will see at a glance that if Senator St. Ledger correctly interprets the policy of the Queensland Government, it will be a comparatively easy matter for that Government to extend the line from Cloncurry a distance of 200 miles towards the border of the Northern Territory. . It would thus connect with the proposed transcontinental railway. But the difference between the acceptance and the rejection of this Bill by Queensland representatives is caused by the Government refusing to give them an elbow on the proposed line of railway. We have ample evidence that the Northern Territory is a very fruitful country. There are large tracts of fertile land there, and from the point of view of the desirableness of diversifying our industries, we should endeavour to induce people to go inland and settle there, thus demonstrating that the tropical and subtropical portion of Australia is capable of supporting a white race. I have much pleasure in supporting the clause, and in opposing the amendment, which cannot be regarded as one which is put forward in the interests of Nationalism.
– - Certain matters in connexion with this debate must, I think, occasion some regret to every honorable senator. Amongst these matters is one which was brought to my mind by almost the closing words of tlie last speaker. I would remind him, as a senator for Western Australia, that it does not help to a proper understanding of the question to impute motives to senators from Queensland.
– I did no such thing.
– And, further, let me remind the honorable senator that if it is a question of motives, the last persons in this Chamber to impute them ought 10 be the representatives of the great State of Western Australia. I can call to mind, if he has forgotten it, that it was not until there was introduced into this agreement a proposal connected with the Western Australian railway that the representatives of that State commenced to evince such a touching regard for its ratification. We know that those who live in glass houses ought to be very careful about their rocks ; and I would suggest to Senator Lynch that, before he seeks to impute motives to those who have not yet said a single word as to where the railway ought to go, he should bear in mind the fact which I now bring) before his notice, that the senators from Western Australia, in their advocacy of this line, stand marked “ suspect “ if any body of men ever did.
– The honorable senator has no right to impute motives to me, or to my colleagues ; because he must know that the Constitution provides that, even if South Australia stood out against the construction of the railway, the Commonwealth Parliament could put it through in spite of her.
– I am not called upon to look into the Constitution. I am reminding my honorable friend of the facts which have taken place here, and of the previous indifference or hostility of Western Australian senators to this project until the running of a railway into Western Australia was made a feature of the agreement. Then we suddenly found them becoming ardent advocates of that which is termed the Northern Territory matter, but which to them means a help forward to the Western Australian railway.
I wish to express my great regret that it should have been held here reprehensible for an honorable senator to tell what he believes to be the truth about any portion of Australia. Last night we had Senator McGregor criticising Senator Stewart, and referring to him as one who had fouled his own nest because he had ventured to picture the Northern Territory as he believes it to exist.
– We do not object, so long as he speaks the truth. Did he not say that Western Australia is a sandy desert ?
– The honorable senator also had better give a silent vote on this subject.
– Let the honorable senator turn to Hansard and get the answer there.
– I have always expressed myself in favour of this project.
– It is amusing to me to hear these virtuous critics to-day who, but a few months ago, were standing shoulder to shoulder with Senator Stewart, and uttering words which, compared with his, were as mountains to mole hills.
– Nothing of the kind. I have never said an unfavorable word about the Northern Territory since I have been here.
– Whatever may be the facts of the case in regard to the! Northern Territory - and I believe every word which Senator Stewart has uttered so far as I am able to understand the position
– That it is a Godforgotten country - a country in which Chinamen would not live?
– The country to which Senator Stewart was then referring is a country in which no man is likely to live in the Honorary Minister’s time. At that time, Senator Stewart was speaking of the Oodnadatta country, and the extension of the railway northward. My honorable friends can paint this country as they will ; but, to my mind, a country with a 5-inch rainfall is but one remove from desert! country.
– Senator Stewart said that Western Australia was a sandy desert, and that the Northern Territory was a wilderness.
– There is a mighty large lump of Western Australia which is aptly described by that expression.
– Has the honorable senator been there?
– No; but I have read the very interesting works of many of its explorers, including Sir John Forrest.
– Did he describe it as a desert?
– I recommend my honorable friend to read the account of the trip which Sir John Forrest made over a route running almost parallel with the route of the proposed transcontinental railway. I want to know why honorable senators are so touchy about descriptions of country. Let me turn to my own State. In the north-western corner of our western division, we have country with a rainfall which runs down to anything from 5 to 7 inches. Can I be said to be fouling my own nest because I recognise at once that a country with that limited rainfall has very serious limitations ? 1 should be unworthy of any credence if I came forward and pretended that it was high class country.
– The honorable senator would not like it to be called a desert, though.
– I nm not at all touchy on that point. These terms are apt, used comparatively. I have had the advantage of seeing the Oodnadatta country, and there is only one little point of difference as to its quality between Senator Stewart and myself. He described it as a sand-hill country, the sand shifting with every breeze. I rather think that he overlooked one fact. Nature regretted that the sand was being blown about by the wind, and in some mysterious way scattered a number of stones to hold it down.
– And where there are stones there is good chocolate soil underneath.
– Good chocolate soil and 5 inches of rainfall ! I do not want to decry the country, but I do want the truth to be known. When we are taking over the Northern Territory, as we intend to do, and as will be done with the help of my vote, no greater injury can be done to Australia than by trying to persuade people that we are entering upon something which is without a problem. We shall be confronted with a very big problem when we take over the Territory. Why ? Not because it is a rich land, flowing with milk and honey, as Senator Lynch described it.
– I did not; I only quoted what others had said.
– The honorable senator makes himself responsible for statements when he -brings them here. We are doing a great injury to the Northern Territory itself, and to Australia as a whole, if we attempt to mislead outside persons as to the seriousness of the responsiblity which they are taking upon themselves That responsibility arises from the fact that we have out there unfavorable conditions to face. If it were like the western district of Victoria, or even the medium country of New South Wales - if it were anything like the country which has been settled - there would be no problem at all to solve. But it is because the conditions are less favorable on the whole than those of any other State that we shall be confronted with a big difficulty.
– Distance counts for a lot, too.
– Of course it does. By means of railways we can probably tend, not to annihilate distance, but to economize the drawbacks which it undoubtedly constitutes. There has been a great deal said about constructing one railway to develop the Territory, but my own view is that to construct one railway is only to play with the matter, and to the extent to which we have to’ construct more railways we shall be required to find more money.
– The honorable senator intends to support only the one?
– Of course. I am merely pointing out the tremendous obligations which we are taking over, and that the best thing we can do is to try to let the people know the facts as they exist. Senator Lynch has stated that in the Northern Territory there is an inexhaustible supply of artesian water for irrigation. A more reckless statement was never made, because there is no such thing as an inexhaustible water supply anywhere in the world.
– The honorable senator’s geology is very rocky.
– My information may be wrong, but, to repeat the honorable senator’s words, these statements are not mine, but somebody else’s. For some years the United States of America has kept employed an Underflow Commission, the word “ Underflow “ being equivalent to our word “artesian.” It included scientists of various types, all useful in determining the extent to which these waters were inexhaustible or otherwise.
They carried their inquiries so far that they were able to go into a district before a single well was put down, and tell the people the aggregate quantity of water which they could get out of the basin. After they had put down a number of bores, they reached the aggregate flow. It was proved by experience that, as they put down other bores, the water was distributed through the whole of them, not a single gallon being added to the aggregate flow. I am, therefore, entitled to accept their opinion in preference to the unsupported statement of Senator Lynch.
– Does the honorable senator mean that they were not permanent - that is, that they would exhaust themselves in time?
– I mean that the basins had a limited supply. The bores were permanent for a .certain Supply, or, to use the exact words of the Commission, ‘ you cannot take out of anything more than goes into it.” And with regard to artesian water, let me remind my honorable friend that the quantity of water underfoot is nothing. You need net count on that at all. The only water which you can hope to come to the surface is the equivalent of the head ; that is always very limited as compared with the quantity which is underground. In New South Wales we are already face to face with the possibility of failing wells. Senator Rae has interjected that that is largely due to the corroding of the casing. That that is a contributing factor, I do not dispute; but there is not a single bore south of a line running east and west through Walgett, which has not commenced to diminish in its flow, whilst north of that line the diminution is almost imperceptible. If it were principally due to the corroding of the casing the- diminution would take place either north or south of the line. But the fact is that south of the line you are getting near the edge of the basin at which the failure is first experienced. That is only bearing out the experience which America has made available to us, if the responsible officers would only take the trouble to learn and read what is before them. But they share the fear which apparently agitates Senator McGregor and Senator Findley. They are afraid of telling the truth. They say that if you decry the country you will raise an alarm and spoil interests which are connected with this matter. In my opinion, it is better that the truth should be made known.
– Fair criticism is quite right, but not misstatements.
– After what occurred here last night I do not think that the honorable senator is a judge of what constitutes fair criticism.
– It was the downright truth, anyway.
– No. The honorable senator was dealing with romance - in little fables and stale stories. He did not get near the truth. It is also a matter of regret that the Minister in charge of the Bill, instead of attempting to advance arguments in support of it or replying to arguments of its opponents, should treat the Senate to the matter to which he did last night. I should not mind his stories so much if they were true and novel, but I do object to things which I had almost forgotten before I left the nursery being revived for the edification of a body of grown men.
– Had the honorable senator forgotten the Ten Commandments, too?
– If , the honorable senator made as much effort to remember the Ten Commandments as to remember the nursery stories he would be a better man.
– I have forgotten neither.
– Senator Lynch spoke as if, because of this inexhaustible supply of artesian water, we were going to have tremendous areas of this country irrigated. Did he stop to ask what area a single bore could irrigate? It is insignificant. If Australia’ is depending upon artesian water for irrigation it is depending on a very broken reed indeed. A large quantity of artesian water is unfit for irrigation purposes; it is so heavily charged with alkaline matter that it is destructive.
– I said that it would convert poor country into good country which would carry stock.
– When the honorable senator comes forward and tries to laud the Territory with these extraordinary statements he is not a friend to the Territory or to Australia. He is trying to convey a false impression abroad as to what it consists of. To my mind, the true course to take is to recognise that the main reason why we should take over the Northern Territory is, not because it is a superlatively rich country, but because it is on the whole a comparatively poor one. That is, I think, the sole reason why it should be taken over. If it were on the Darling Downs in Queensland, or in the Western District of Victoria, or on the Liverpool Plains or in the Illawarra District of New South Wales, would there be any need to take it over? Not at all. The truth is that this country is, on the whole, comparatively speaking, a poor proposition, and it is for that reason that the Commonwealth, having broader shoulders and a longer purse, is, in my view, . a fit authority to take it over and develop it.
– I do not care what reason actuates the honorable senator. Let him support the Bill, and it is all right.
– I see a bigger responsibility than the mere passage of the measure, and that is to try to bring before the country the tremendous problems with which we are confronted, and the immense task which we are taking upon ourselves. It is useless merely to take over the Territory. That is not an end in itself. -It is only a beginning. We have to bear in mind all the time that when we have taken it over, we have not finished our work. We have only entered upon the threshold of it. The next step is to devise a policy for the development of the Territory. Can any one in this Chamber honestly say that he has even a skeleton of an idea as to how to set to work to develop that Territory yet?
– We can, at least, have a skeleton idea.
– My honorable friend with that, modesty which we, living in New South Wales, have long recognised in him, might suggest that one or two things could be done ; but I venture to say that even he would not for one moment stand up in his place in the Senate and outline a policy for the development of the Northern Territory. All that we can do at present is to recognise that we are confronted with a problem even more serious than that which confronted the pioneers of Australia in the early days. All we can do is to recognise that the problem is there, and to make up out minds that the solution of it makes heavy demands upon our best statesmanship and upon our resources, if we are to bring the Territory up to such a stage of development as is necessary, not only for its own well-being, but for the safety of Australia.
-Colonel CAMERON (Tasmania) [10.2].- I shall support Senator Givens’ amendment on the distinct understanding that only one railway is to be con- structed in the Northern Territory at present. We cannot have one railway for the benefit of Western Australia, another for the benefit of the eastern States, and a third for the development of the Northern Territory proper. Only one railway is possible for many years to come. The necessity for that railway arises from the conditions that surround us in the matter of defence. It is that factor which has induced the Commonwealth to come to the help of South Australia in taking over the Territory. From all that I have heard from Senator Lynch and the other senators who have spoken, I gather that one and all are uncertain as to what the value of the Territory really is. One description that one hears of it is favorable, whilst another is the reverse. The truth is that very little is known about the Territory at present. That being the case, I am sure that there can be nothing against Senator Givens’ proposal. In considering the railway construction project; we are thoroughly seized of the fact that what is required is a line that will fulfil the condition of developing the Territory, and at the same time enable us to move our troops forward, should the necessity arise for the defence of the northern parts of Australia. A policy which will give us such a line is surely the best one to adopt at present, irrespective of party considerations or State interests. On those grounds I shall unhesitatingly give a vote for the amendment.
– Before the amendment is put to the Committee, I desire to say a word on a phase of the question which has been introduced by Senator Symon. His remarks were to the effect that whether honorable senators were voting for or against the construction of a railway through the Northern Territory, the Bill, should at least be made clear upon the point. When the measure which had to be withdrawn on account oi a certain provision which it contained, was under discussion a few weeks ago, I made the remark that I trusted that if the Bill contained anything ambiguous it would be made clear. I took up the stand that those who opposed, as well as those who supported, the Bill should know what they were voting for. I trust now that if there is anything ambiguous or capable of a double meaning in this Bill, anything which will open up an opportunity for the lawyers to spend the money of the Commonwealth or of South Australia in expensive litigation, the Government will see its way clear to make the matter quite plain.
– Daniel O’Connell said that he could drive a coach and six through any Act of Parliament.
– That is no reason why we should deliberately leave a place through which a coach and six may be driven. As a strong supporter of this Bill, I consider that the construction of a railway every inch of the way through the Northern Territory is justified on the evidence. That is the reason why I am strongly against the amendment. One of my motives for supporting the Bill is that I desire to hasten the construction of the railway, knowing the danger that at present exists. If we left a loop-hole in the Bill, it would only be another method’ of causing delay, because it would conduce to litigation, and might so hang up the construction of the railway for perhaps a considerable time.
– I suggest that the honorable senator might better deal with that matter when clause 14 is under consideration.
– In the agreement which we are asked to ratify, there are provisions for carrying out railway construction. It is provided that the Commonwealth is to construct, or cause to be constructed, a railway from Port Darwin southwards to a point on the northern part of South Aus- . tralia proper. My opinion is that the phrase “ construct, or cause to be constructed, from Port Darwin southwards “ is liable to misconstruction. We ought, at all events, to know what we are doing. I contend that the Government can carry this measure with a straight-out declaration on the face of it that the railway is to go through the Northern Territory. I believe that they have sufficient support to carry the Bill in such a form through both Houses.
– The AttorneyGeneral is against the honorable senator’s view.
– That is his concern, not mine. I believe in straightforward legislation all the time. Nothing is to be gained by shilly-shallying in this matter. If the Government are not going to say straight out what they mean, I shall support Senator Symon’s amendment. That would secure a straight-out declaration on the part of the Senate that it is in favour of carrying the railroad through the Territory as n part of the agreement with South Austra lia. I prefer that course to carrying an ambiguous proposal which might be interpreted to mean the right to carry the railway through Queensland. There is. I am sure, sufficient honour and good faith in this Senate to back up a Government that is determined to go straight, but not to back up a Government that is inclined to shillyshally. We were not told by Senator McGregor what the real intentions of the Government were, and yet the sole ground of argument on both sides is as to whether it is a proper thing to construct a railway solely within the Northern Territory or not.
– Are not the terms of the agreement exactly repeated in the Bill ?
– Not quite ; the Bill omits the words describing where the railway is to be built.
– Those words are in the South Australian Bill, not in ours.
– If there can be a conflict between honorable senators on this question it is our duty to make the matter quite clear. Let us put words into the Bill which will put an end to that difference of opinion.
– Then we shall have to send the Bill back to the Legislative Council of South Australia.
– Not at all. Whilst the honorable senator has more political experience than I have, I am not such a babe as not to know that while an amendment of the agreement would involve a reference to the South Australian Parliament, that State has no voice whatever in the construction of this Bill as long as it gives effect to the agreement arrived at. The honorable senator is surely not trying - relying on my well-known innocence - to fool me in this matter. I was quite complimented by Senator Millen’s reference to my modesty. But whilst not lacking in that valuable quality of which he has an overabundance, I am sure that I know enough to be aware that this Bill is for the purpose of embodying the agreement and giving effect to it. We ought to be quite clear as to whether the Bill in its present form will allow the railway to be deviated or not. While a previous speaker was addressing the Committee I interjected that the scheme with regard to the railway going through Queensland was promulgated for the assistance of a lot of boodlers; and while I do not accuse my honorable friends from Queensland of having any knowledge of what is going on, I do say that I have’ some evidence on the subject.
– Let us have it.
– I have evidence “to the effect that there is a strong movement afoot promoted by a large number of pastoralists and financial people to secure the construction of a railroad - if possible SUDsidized by the Commonwealth - via Mungundi, on the Queensland border of New South Wales, to connect with the north-west system of that State, and running in the direction of Charleville, thus connecting with the line that goes west of Rockhampton in the direction of Longreach. There are very large interests concerned, and if these pastoralists and financial people could get that piece of work done the result would be to put a good deal of money into their pockets. The scheme may be legitimate from their point of view, but we should not play into their hands. I wish to say a word also in reply to a statement by Senator St. Ledger, repeated over and over again, that every State retained the power in the hands of its own Parliament to decide by what route it should construct any proposed line of railway. The honorable senator compared that with the effort made by Senator Givens’ amendment to secure to the Commonwealth the right to say whether the proposed railway should be constructed wholly within the Northern Territory or taken outside of it. I contend that the analogy is not a fair one, because it should be remembered that the proposal here is that the Territory of one State may be developed by the construction of a railway in another. It should not be forgotten that if we take a direct line through what has been called “ the dead heart of Australia,” weshall have under the agreement a right to take the proposed railway out of that direct course a distance of 280 miles on either side, and still keep it within the Northern Territory. That, surely, should give the Commonwealth sufficient scope for the selection of a suitable route. Whilst no representative of Queensland has asked that the railway should be taken through a portion of that State, we know that that is what is in their minds, and accounts for the singular unanimity on this matter of representatives of Queensland, who differ in opinion upon almost every other subject. I think they should be honest enough to say so.
– How does the honorable senator know what our objective is, if, as he says, we have never stated it?
– We have prima facie evidence in the fact that, no matter how much Queensland senators may differ on every other subject, they are united in the demand that the Commonwealth should have the right to say where the proposed railway shall go.
– And the honorable senator is against that?
– I should not be against it if the proposal were merely to construct a line from the south to the north of Australia, but we are here dealing with a business proposition between South Australia on the one hand and the Commonwealth on the other. If honorable senators desire that the bargain made shall be adhered to, they will not demand a right for the Commonwealth which would violate the terms of the agreement. There is no question here of preserving the freedom of action of the Commonwealth Parliament. Honorable senators should be politically honest, and admit that. With respect to the character of the country, we have a good deal of evidence that in the MacDonnell Ranges there is excellent country watered by natural . streams from the ranges, and not dependent upon an artesian supply.
– There are minerals in that part of the country. Gold has been discovered there.
– We may reasonably assume, that mineral fields of various kinds will be opened up in that country. Let me say, also, that a lot of the western country of Queensland, to which Senator St. .Ledger especially referred, is subject to floods after heavy rainfall, and the construction of railways through such country would involve considerable expense. The honorable senator offered an excellent argument for the construction of the proposed railway, by approximately the direct route, when he said that as the railways from Brisbane, Rockhampton, and Townsville were extended westward they became more remunerative. The reason for this may be that they opened up a greater area of pastoral country, but we may also infer from the statement that the country is better as we go west. If that be so, there is every reason why the lines referred to should be extended until they are linked up with a great transcontinental line from south to north, and running through the Northern Territory.
– Should they be extended over hundreds of miles of desert in order to be linked up with that line?
– Senator Givens will not suggest that a straight line drawn through that area will separate the good from the bad country. Are we to believe that if we go west from the coast in Queensland we shall gradually cross country that increases in value until we bump up against an imaginary line, from which we shall be able to see 100 miles of desert in front of us?
– I did not say that the country improved as we go west.
– The honorable senator said that the Queensland railways became more remunerative as they were extended further west, and the presumption was that the country became better. Such lines as have been suggested from Bourke to Cunnamulla, from Charleville to Longreach, and from Longreach to Winton, should be considered on their merits and not as a means of developing the Northern Territory.
– No one is advocating anything of the sort. What is the use of putting up Aunt Sallies and knocking them down again?
– The arguments urged against the proposal contained in this Bill have been fortified by all kinds of suggested railway proposals.
– We have nothing to do with that.
– I do not say that the honorable senator has anything to do with it, but all kinds of influences have been brought to bear to support the argument against the construction of the proposed railway within the Northern Territory. I have said that if it is considered that a central line would not be the best line to construct, we shall have under this agreement the right to take the railway 280 miles on either side of such a line. But honorable senators opposed to the proposal contend that, if necessary, this Parliament should have the right to take the line outside of the Northern Territory. That is merely a wilful and deliberate demand for delay. No matter how willing honorable senators may be to have the Northern Territory developed in what they believe to be the right way, the agreement between South Australia and the Commonwealth includes the construction of the proposed railway within the Northern Territory, and if we refuse to accept that condition the matter must be again remitted to the South Australian Parliament. That must involve delay for which there can be no excuse offered, if there is anything in the argument that the Territory should be taken over by the Commonwealth in order to secure its defence. The danger of an invasion of Australia from the north- is not, to my mind, a possibility of the distant future, but a matter of urgent and immediate importance which should at once to provided against. The only proposal with which we can deal under this Bill is one to take over the Territory from South Australia with a condition that the railway to be constructed connecting Pine Creek with Oodnadatta shall be constructed within the Northern Territory as far as the boundary of South Australia. I trust that the Government will make a definite statement as to what is intended, so that we may know how to vote.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– During the discussion on the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill, Senator Millen, as nearly as I can remember, said that honorable senators from Western Australia had less warrant to speak about other members of the Senate and impute motives than had any other senators. He said that certain honorable senators from Western Australia who were opposed to the proposed Northern Territory Acceptance Bill when it did not contain a provision for the consent of South Australia to the building of the Western Australian line, changed their minds and said they were in favour of it when such a provision was included in the Bill. I have been a member of the Federal Parliament for over three years now, and, although I have watched closely the movements and utterances of my colleagues from Western Australia, I have never heard one of them express any opposition to the proposal that the Commonwealth should take over the Northern Territory whether the Bill contained such a provision as I have mentioned or not. I therefore think that the statement which the honorable senator made is merely a repetition of what was said without the least foundation by another honorable senator. It is a statement which should be withdrawn, because it is unjust to the Western Australian delegation in this Chamber. Senator Millen should either name the honorable senators to whom he referred or he should absolutely withdraw his statement.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) [10.31’J. - I have not the slightest intentionof withdrawing a single word that I have uttered. I deny altogether that I madethe statement which Senator Lynch hasattributed to me.
– The honorable senator is so slippery that it is impossible to pin- him down to anything definite.
– When the honorablesenator asks me to withdraw a statement,, he ought to refrain from indulging in remarks of that kind. I have not the slightest intention of withdrawing what I have said, and I protest against the version of it which has been presented by Senator Lynch. It was. a distortion of what I said. Further, when the honorable senator speaks of so recent a period as three yearslet me remind him that I was speaking of a longer period.
, - It seems to me that some honorable senators are growing very touchy. Only a short time ago, in referring to the Queensland1 representatives in this Chamber, one honorable senator said that, whether they knew it or not, they were assisting boodleiers. He added that it was very significant that honorable senators from Queensland upon both sides of the Chamber had combined to defeat the proposed transcontinental railway. The only inference which I could draw from these remarks was that we had combined to do what was wrong and to assist boodleiers. When I asked for some evidence in support of the statement it was not forthcoming. Nevertheless, we did not rise to protest against the statement.
– So far as the complaint of Senator Lynch against the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition is concerned, it is news to me. to learn that any representative of Western Australia has exhibited hostility to the proposed transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth.
– Does not the honorable senator think it would be well for him first to ascertain what 1 said ? He was not in the Chamber at the time, and he has heard my denial of the words which have been put into my mouth.
– Whatever the Leader of the Opposition may have said I know that a statement was made by another honorable senator which I wish to flatly contradict. So far as I am aware the representatives of Western Australia have always regarded the taking over of the Northern Territory with favour. But I would suggest that we should have much plainer sailing if Senator Millen would repeat his statement and give the names ot the honorable senators to whom he refers.
-i shall please myselt about that.
– At any rate, that is the manly course to adopt.
– Let the honorable senator find out what I said before he talks like that.
– Unfortunately I was absent from the Chamber when the Leader of the Opposition made his statement. But I deny that J’ have ever opposed the transfer of the Northern Territory ‘to the Commonwealth.
– I did not say that the honorable senator had done so.
– Regarding the statement that the representatives of Western Australia ought to be the last to impute motives, I do not know that the representatives of any State have a right to do that.
– I wish to refer to a remark which was made by an honorable senator who accused the representatives of Queensland of seeking to use the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill for the purpose of securing the construction of a railway through Western Queensland. Not one syllable was uttered by myself which could convey that impression. Nevertheless, neitherI, nor any of my colleagues, exhibited the supersensitiveness which has been exhibited by some honorable senators opposite.
– I am sorry that upon the motion for adjournment honorable senators should have indulged in personal recriminations. I attempted to secure the adjournment of the Senate at a reasonable hour, but Senator Givens interjected that we had made no progress. I have been very considerate to’ honorable senators, and in the circumstances I must ask them to come to-morrow prepared to make progress. If we continue to discuss the Bill which has been engaging our attention in the way that it Has been discussed during the last couple of days, it will be Christmas before we have finally dealt with it, and we must recollect that a great deal of legislation of an important character has to be enacted before the prorogation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.37p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 September 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19100921_senate_4_57/>.